Getting a Second Opinion: Effect of Peer Feedback on Academic Writing

Those in the pursuit of higher academics often submit their papers or scholarly articles to be reviewed by fellow scholars and academicians prior to publication. However, not many of them know that the peer reviewing process in academia, as we see today, came into being back in 1669 when the French Academy of Sciences wrote reports detailing inventions and their uses for the King. The Royal Society of Edinburgh and Royal Society of London soon followed suit, and thus, the peer feedback process came into being.

These days, most academic institutions apply peer feedback as an instructional method. It has proven to be beneficial for educators and pupils alike, and helps in nurturing critical thinking, unearthing empirical findings, and develops scholarly minds of budding academicians.

Peer Feedbacks Academic Writing

When we talk about the effects of peer feedback on academic assignment writing, we must look into each aspect of the entire peer feedback process to gain a better understanding of the subject. The impacts of peer feedback have been significant and continue to be so in the publication of scientific journals. Stalwarts like the American Medical Association, Johns Hopkins University Press, and Royal Society of Chemistry go by peer review methods before the publication of academic papers. This post talks about the various types of peer feedback processes and their effects on academic pursuits, underlining the importance of preserving a time-honored tradition in academia.

At forked roads – types of peer reviews

When you turn in an academic paper (especially for a journal), it undergoes a series of reviews and revisions before publication (or eventual rejection). The primary purpose of peer feedback is to see whether a submission falls under the scope of the journal. This apart, structural as well as readability aspects of the article or paper are also taken into account during a peer review process. The two primary kinds of peer feedback processes usually followed at academic institutions as well as publication houses are as follows.

  • Single-blind peer feedback: In these cases, the author of the article or paper does not get to know who the reviewer is, and allows partial anonymity.
    Single-blind peer feedback processes tend to be more impartial for the identity of the author cannot influence the reviewer.  However, reviewers may cause unnecessary delays in the review process that gives them a chance to publish the article first. Sometimes, single-blind peer feedback reviewers are too harsh with their comments and criticism about the paper.
  • Double-blind peer feedback: In this type of peer feedback, neither the author nor the reviewer is presented with details about each other, using complete anonymity.

This anonymity factor of double-blind ensures that the review process takes on an impartial turn. Eliminating all forms of reviewer bias based on language or country of origin of the researcher, this form of peer feedback helps in maintaining ethical considerations. Reputed authors or scholars get their work reviewed solely on the basis of the content of their articles or papers, rather than based on their reputations. However, reviewers are sometimes able to recognise the authors or scholars by noting the writing style or the process of self-citation.

Dr. Derek Kerbing from MyAssignmenthelp sheds light on other forms of peer feedback process by saying, “Open and transparent peer reviews are also making their way to the operations of various higher education institutions and journals around the globe.” Let’s take a look at how those two forms of peer review function.

  • Open peer feedback:The author and reviewer are both known to each other in case of open peer reviews, that, some say is a great way to put an end to snarky comments and plagiarism issues. Scholars are of the opinion that open peer feedback is a reliable way towards honest reviewing, and encourages the development of a holistic academic community. However, reviewers sometimes withhold criticism for the sake of politeness or fear of negative impacts on their careers.
  • Transparent peer feedback:This review process ensures that all publications acknowledge the importance of the peer feedback process with a takeaway for the author and reviewer alike. This peer feedback process enriches articles and improves the overall reading experience of the readers. Scholars can also acknowledge the important contributions that reviewers have on polishing the content, structure, style, and arguments of their papers.

Related: The Art of Academic Writing: Tips on Writing Research Paper

Of course, peer feedback differs among institutions and their academic policies. While some journals or institutions go for advanced plagiarism detection software, some hold separate reviews for the statistics and data analysis portions of the paper. Some reviews look closely at the figures to identify any tampering or alteration while some focus on datasets and software usage. Hence, peer feedback can come in many forms, depending on the focus and purpose of the reviews.

Impacts of peer feedback on academic writing

With more than 2.2 million research papers being published annually on a global basis, peer reviewing has gradually become the norm in academia. Although it is a widely accepted practice all around the world in publishing houses and educational institutions alike, the impact of the same in academia is a much-debated issue. The following is a take on the two sides of the argument regarding the effects of peer feedback on academic writing, and analyses its contributions towards the pursuit of higher academics.

Pros of peer feedback in academia

With plenty of academic institutions and scientific journals switching to peer feedback processes when the time comes for editing and revising research papers, here are the advantages of the process, as perceived by the larger section of academia.

  • Peer reviews help the researcher understand the quality as well as the merit of research from a third-person perspective. It helps him gain insights about the areas that need improvement within his work.
  • Peer feedback bars low quality or irrelevant research from seeing the light of day. The pursuit of higher academics is not everyone’s cup of tea, and peer feedback helps researchers understand how to match steps with the quality and relevance that is demanded of them at such a level.
  • Peer feedback also helps to eliminate all bias and prejudice that may have crept in the research. Helping to keep empirical research value-free, peer feedback highlights areas where pre-conceived notions underlying the research should be done away with.
  • When it comes to the publication of academic journals, peer feedback is just the way to go as it is a more cost-effective option for all. Peer reviewers save half of the time and money that scientific journals would have had to allot to a team of editors in case the process of peer-reviewed papers did not come into being in academia.
  • Most peer reviewers are well-established scholars in their disciplines. Reviewing the work of upcoming researchers presents them with the opportunity of highlighting the emergence of groundbreaking theories relevant to their disciplines. Valuable research thus has a way of being noticed by just the right people through a robust peer feedback network.
  • Usually, the journals that employ a peer review technique prior to the publication of papers have a chance of making it to the top of the ladder in the industry. Forming ties with reputed academicians for peer review panels, these journals continue to contribute to the well-being and progress of academia.

Cons of peer feedback in academia

Despite the widespread use of peer feedback in academia, the process still faces flak from some quarters. The ones who say peer feedback does more harm than good substantiate their points with the following arguments.

Academic Writing

  • Peer reviews are not 100% successful at identifying methodological problems in a paper. Most peer reviewers are overburdened with work, and most lack the zeal to go over every minute detail in a paper when they have piles of assignments and papers to mark and return the following day.
  • Peer feedback processes sometimes take a long time, and some have stretched on for months and years. Time constraint on the parts of peer reviewers is again a recurrent problem that lengthens the process, resulting in unnecessary delays that the author of the paper has to go through.
  • Amid controversies in academia regarding ethics, the issue of transparency in peer reviews forms another strong point of opposing the practice. Since peer reviewing is a subjective process, the matter of transparency does pose a problem. When scholars on the peer review board are not able to detach themselves from their respective schools of thought, the chances are that peer feedback won’t follow the ethical standards it was initially supposed to.
  • Finally, there is the criticism that peer review cannot wholly eliminate fraudulent activities or production of sub-par papers in academia. However, the primary responsibility of ensuring that the papers they turn in are of the highest quality and matches all ethical standards and specifications of the educational institution or journal lies with the author. Peer feedback can only work towards improving it to some extent, but it cannot eliminate the quality or plagiarism issues entirely, as per the critics of the process.

Summing it up

Although the peer feedback process has had its fair share of critique from some quarters within the academia, it continues to be a reliable form of establishing validity and relevance of research and findings. We can all do with a second opinion, and when it comes to academic writing, what better way to do that but get reliable peer feedback from fellow scholars? It contributes to the holistic development of the academic community and helps in nurturing and preserving of ideas and new theories that could lead to newer findings in the future. The impact of peer feedback on academic writing is thus far-reaching, with newer formats of peer review processes coming to light; it continues to be one of the primary pillars of academic success in the modern day.

Also Read: How to write in an Academic Style Writing?

Author bio: Ava Lee, an educationist based in  London, offers essay help to the students. She works as a student counselor at a reputed university in the United Kingdom, and enjoy writing enriching blogs about education and its current trends