Unpacking the Many Layers of Research Integrity: PRW 2022 Blog Series Intro

Peer Review Week 2022 is finally here! After months of planning and preparations, we members of the steering committee are excited to kick off a week full of information-packed activities and events on this year’s theme, “Research Integrity: Creating and supporting trust in research,” which was chosen by the scholarly community via an open poll.

A key question raised during PRW planning meetings was, “how do we differentiate this year’s theme from the 2020 theme, “Trust in Peer Review.” What followed was a fruitful and generative discussion about research integrity policies and practices as necessary means to reach the end goal of fostering trust in peer review and, ultimately, the scholarly record both within and outside academia. 

To briefly summarize the PRW steering committee’s views on the aims and scope of this year’s theme, as discussed in The Scholarly Kitchen announcement, Research integrity encompasses conducting, reviewing, and disseminating research in a transparent, rigorous, ethical, and verifiable manner. We want to emphasize that this is a broad working definition of research integrity. The goal of PRW is to invite community input and action steps surrounding this topic to continue fleshing out the many relevant parts and pieces and building upon them.

To help unpack the numerous layers of this year’s theme, we’re launching a series of blog posts about the role of peer review in fostering research integrity before submission, during peer review, and post-publication.

Here’s some background on the relationship between research integrity and peer review and what to expect from our forthcoming blog series.

A bit of background: research integrity and peer review

Ensuring research integrity is, of course, among the primary aims of peer review. Today, myriad peer review standards and best practices are available both generally and within specific disciplinary areas thanks to the tireless efforts of organizations like the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), and the EQUATOR Network (Enhancing the QUAlity and Transparency Of health Research).

However, as all of the organizations above would likely agree, it’s necessary to recognize that formalized peer review practices as we know them today are relatively new in the grand scheme of scholarly communication. In fact, despite the oldest research journal, Philosophical Transactions, dating back to the 15th century (first published by the Royal Society in 1665), the formalization of peer review as a process didn’t occur until the 1940s.

(Source)

Since then, peer review has spread throughout academia to introduce a more thorough and (aspirationally) objective process for vetting scholarship. But, as this comic from Hilda Bastian demonstrates, it’s an imperfect process, and there are still many questions about the extent to which peer review can and should ensure research integrity. Among them are whether biases on the parts of all parties involved — publishers, editors, authors, reviewers, and funders — can be curbed, from biases against negative results to institutional or personal ones. In recent years, evidence of research spin, reproducibility, and replicability challenges has also been mounting.

The theme for PRW 2022, “Research Integrity: Creating and supporting trust in research,” invites all scholarly communication stakeholders to weigh in on current guidelines and initiatives to promote research integrity at all stages of peer review and the way forward.

Topics we’ll touch on in this blog series

We hope this PRW blog series will help spur meaningful conversations and action steps surrounding this year’s theme. We have a great lineup with contributions from PRW steering committee members representing a range of perspectives, from publishers to authors to service providers.

Here’s a quick preview of topics we plan to cover:

  • The role of peer review in spotting and addressing research misconduct
  • The relationship between research reproducibility/replicability and research integrity
  • The role of scholars in promoting research integrity and how Early Career Researchers (ECRs) can get involved
  • New forms of peer review to support research integrity

Tackling tough questions and embracing opportunities during PRW

We acknowledge that our forthcoming blog series will only skim the surface of the topic of research integrity and peer review. There are many tough questions to address, all with the potential to open up new realms of possibilities to reinforce and further the role of peer review in ensuring research integrity. We welcome and look forward to your input and ideas!

We hope you enjoy the blog series and invite you to follow the Peer Review Week Twitter account @PeerRevWeek and this year’s hashtags #PeerReviewWeek22 and #IntegrityAndPeerReview for updates on new posts and all the activities happening this PRW.


Danielle Padula

Attribution: This post was written by Danielle Padula, Head of Marketing and Community Development at Scholastica

About the author: Danielle Padula heads up marketing and community development at Scholastica, a scholarly publishing technology provider with peer review, production, and open access journal hosting solutions. Prior to joining Scholastica, Danielle worked in academic book publishing. She enjoys creating resources to help publishers navigate the evolving research landscape and is excited to be co-chairing Peer Review Week for 2022.

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