What is peer review? Why is it important that you involve colleagues in writing your research manuscript? Here are 10 benefits you can get from peer review.
Although you may believe that you already have what it takes to write your research paper in an excellent manner, it is highly recommended that you involve people within your discipline to finalize what you have written thus far. This is a good process to undergo before submitting your research paper for publication or in compliance with the requirements of a research project. Chances are, there are always things that you have overlooked while writing your research paper.
Just the other day, I had the opportunity to present my research findings and gain the benefits of a peer review. I presented the result of an impact assessment project we did in selected “target island communities” of the Calamianes Islands in northern Palawan in the Philippines. Target island communities are communities (locally called “barangays”) where various programs and projects have been implemented by a local foundation. The main intention is to provide various assistance packages to the marginal fisherfolks who are highly dependent on their coastal resources. Their routine livelihood activities are affected by the on-going operation of a natural gas project where a pipeline carrying natural gas runs through their fishing zones.
Thus said, the benefits I gained from peer review arose from this presentation. We used an LCD projector to correct the manuscript as we go on with the editing so that everybody sees the progress of the review.
So what are the benefits of subjecting your manuscript to peer review? Although the virtues of peer review may have been discussed elsewhere, below is a list of benefits that I have personally gained from the experience.
Now, here’s the list of 10 benefits to be gained from peer review:
1. Corrects vague terms
Although I am using an online thesaurus each time I write to find the appropriate word to express an idea, there are words that appear to be inappropriate or unclear in some instances. Getting feedback from colleagues help me decide if indeed I have to stick to my terms or adopt what they suggest. If the suggestion sounds good, I don’t hesitate changing terms in question.
2. Provides feedback as to the effectiveness of your communication
Well, that’s it. You can easily see from your peer group’s reactions if they understood the points you advanced in your manuscript. If it takes them a while than usual once a page has been displayed for them to provide their feedback, that could probably mean that there’s something wrong in the flow of thought or discussion. Clarifying questions will most likely come next. And yes, they do.
3. Allows you to see other people’s perspectives on issues raised
Seeing other people’s perspectives is a very valuable contribution to your research manuscript. It is here that you will realize that you do not monopolize good ideas. There may be better, sound ideas out there that can make your writing great. You will then be able to get yourself out of your personal biases and think beyond the box.
After reading Louis Agassiz tussle with Charles Darwin in David Dobbs’ book titled “Reef Madness,” I realized that even recognized experts in science can lose their credibility once the facts show deviations from convention. It pays to listen to the merits of another person’s viewpoints and not be blinded by your own prejudices or stubborn resistance to convincing evidence.
4. Prevents you from committing serious blunders in your arguments
You may have raised points that may be founded on wrong assumptions. Once the assumptions are wrong, then all you have written is essentially wrong. This just follows the rules of logic. If your premises are wrong, then everything that goes after it is unreliable.
5. Gives confidence
More heads is better than one so they say. Once you have gone through a battery of questions and critical comments, and you are able to fend them off or address them adequately, you will then feel more confident. It builds self-esteem and allay fears of rejection.
6. Facilitates concise writing
You may have written more than what is necessary. Removing unnecessary paragraphs or sentences here and there gives rise to a concise, professionally written manuscript.
7. Improves grammar
Although emphasis is given to the content of your research paper, your grammar matters a lot. Good grammar facilitates reading as the reading flow is made more efficient.
8. Allows you to expound on your points
You may have thought you have written enough to explain the matter at hand. Then you realize your peers were taken halfway the intended ideas you want to project. This requires expounding on the issues you have raised for greater understanding and/or clarity of ideas.
9. Confirms your observations
If you have gone together in the field, your colleague can confirm or refute your observation. This validates your findings.
10. Encourages you to perform better next time
If the exercise has shown you some good feedback, you will be on guard on the likely comments, suggestions or criticism on your manuscript the next time around. You are then able to write better than before as you integrate all the comments and suggestions thus avoid committing the same mistakes.
Peer review is a very important process that authors have to go through before they are able to publish their research manuscript. The main purpose is to ensure that whatever comes out published is in its excellent form, i. e., virtually free of errors. Once quality is guaranteed, the published work becomes a solid foundation for others to make a good literature review that will help advance knowledge in a particular field. It is, however, not a foolproof process to produce quality work as everyone is subject to error and their own biases. Read this interesting discussion on peer review.
That’s how science works.
© 2013 June 24 P. A. Regoniel