Review process in a scientific journal

If a scientific worker makes a discovery (and, in fact, also if he doesn’t make a discovery), he must write an article about his results for a scientific journal. He sends the manuscript of the article to the editor of the journal and he then usually sends it to two or three reviewers, i.e. scientists who work in the same field and, where possible, in the same or a similar area. These are frequently members of the editorial board of the particular journal, whose results or theories are mentioned in the article (especially if they are mentioned in a negative context) or authors who have published an article on a similar subject in the particular journal in the past. These reviewers (unless they happen to be your acquaintances who support you or who will require your favour in the future) attempt to find mistakes in the article that would form a basis for rejecting it. If no important mistakes are found in the article but they still don’t like something about the results (for example, that they didn’t discover them themselves), they think up some inadequacies (the author doesn’t sufficiently discuss the possibility that …, instead of method xy it would have been better to use method yx) and suggest to the editor that the article be rejected or at least be fundamentally rewritten (which, under current conditions with an excess of manuscripts of articles, is generally the same thing in the last analysis). On the other hand, if they like the article, find you empathetic or if it is useful for them if your article is published (for example, because they can refer to it in their works or because you cite their article in it in a favourable context), they recommend to the editor that your article be published. In any case, the final decision on the fate of the article lies with the editor who can, but need not, follow the recommendations of reviewers. Reviewers should be unknown to you; in actual fact, in at least half of cases, it is possible to guess who was involved. Especially in the case of favourable reviews, their authors usually take care that you will be able to guess their identities. In some journals, the reviewers do not obtain information from the editor on who is the author of the particular article; in others, the reviewer must sign his review. Studies that have been performed have, however, shown that this has minimal impact on the quality of reviews. It has been found that young reviewers and reviewers who are conversant with statistics write somewhat better reviews.

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