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The Value of the Peer Review Process in Academia

The term “peer review” denotes the process in which some work is evaluated by individuals who have a similar level of competence to the person who did or created that work. In academia, the process of peer-reviewing plays a crucial role in ensuring that the work of scientists complies with the standards of high quality, originality, and credibility.

The process of peer-reviewing is rather lengthy and tedious. For instance, before scientific articles are peer-reviewed, they usually need to pass the editorial offices and the chief editors of academic journals, and if everything is right, the article is sent anonymously to peer reviewers who assess the article and determine if it is credible, valuable, and of high enough quality to be published, or if should be revised prior to being published (Wiley, n.d.). However, the difficulties of this procedure are that which allows the process of peer-reviewing to do what it is supposed to do.

The anonymity of this process ensures that the peer reviewer would not judge the materials based on their personal preferences or their attitude towards the authors, which, in turn, prompts the authors to write only high-quality materials. The fact that the materials are evaluated by peers (in academia, this usually means people with academic degrees, such as a Ph.D.) allows for ensuring that the people who conduct the peer reviews are indeed competent enough to be able to make judgments about the quality, credibility, originality and value of the reviewed work (Elsevier, n.d.).

Therefore, it should be stressed that the process of peer-reviewing is an essential tool of the contemporary science, which permits for maintaining the high standards of quality and originality in the numerous fields of science.

Typical Structure of a Dissertation Proposal and an Academic Paper

On the whole, a dissertation proposal usually includes the following elements (Wentz, 2014):

  • The basic information about the topic;
  • A brief literature review providing background on that topic and showing the gaps in the existing knowledge;
  • Research problem, research questions, and the purpose and significance of the proposed study following from the gaps in the literature;
  • The theoretical foundations of the study;
  • Proposed research design and methodology, and the justification for these;
  • Possible ethical issues;
  • Expected findings of the proposed study.

Such a structure permits for identifying the gaps in the existing base of knowledge, comprehending why it is important to address these gaps, and planning the process of future research (Wentz, 2014). A proposal written in this manner can serve as a useful guide for the scholar writing the dissertation.

An academic paper, on the other hand, has the structure comprising an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. The introduction gives a preview of what will follow, the body presents the main facts and arguments, and the conclusion summarizes these and points out the most important aspects and consequences of what was written in the paper (Miller-Cochran, Stamper, & Cochran, 2016). This structure is useful because the introduction shows the reader what to expect from the paper, making them better prepared for reading it, whereas the conclusion allows for better remembering the most important aspects of the paper.

The Importance of Using Theories in Research

According to Karl Popper, even observations are theory-driven (as cited in Thornton, 2016); when a researcher makes observations, it is some theory that prompts them to observe the phenomena in question, and observe them in this particular way. Thus, when conducting research, it is crucial to define which theory will be used in the study, and utilize its methods. If this is not done, the researcher will simply be using an unidentified mix of theories and/or their “common sense” to make the observations and derive the conclusions from the gathered data. This will undermine the trustworthiness of the conclusions, and make their further validation impossible. So, it is pivotal to identify theories which will be employed in research, and use them properly.

The Importance of Using Valid, Established Measures in Research

When conducting research, it is paramount to utilize established, valid and reliable measures in the study. Validity of an instrument refers to its ability to measure what it is supposed to measure (e.g., a ruler is valid for measuring length, but not valid for measuring temperature), whereas it reliability denotes its ability to produce precise assessments of the same characteristics in different circumstances, if these characteristics have not changed (e.g., a ruler is reliable because it always produces the same results for the length, whereas some IQ tests might be unreliable if they produce different results depending on, e.g., the mood of the respondent) (Cozby & Bates, 2015). Thus, it is critical to use valid instruments, because otherwise one would be measuring not what they were supposed to measure, rendering the study useless. Reliability is crucial because if an instrument is unreliable, it will provide imprecise results. Using an established instrument is recommended because for such instruments, it is usually known how valid and reliable they are.

If one uses a totally new measure, it is advised to assess its reliability after gathering data with this instrument; a variety of statistical tools are available for this purpose, such as the Cronbach’s alpha coefficient (Cozby & Bates, 2015). It is more difficult to assess validity of a measure; a comparison of the results of using the new tool with the results of using an established one may be recommended, however (Cozby & Bates, 2015).

References

Cozby, P. C., & Bates, S. C. (2015). Methods in behavioral research (12th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

Elsevier. (n.d.). What is peer review? Web.

Miller-Cochran, S., Stamper, R., & Cochran, S. (2016). Insider’s guide to academic writing: A rhetoric and reader. Boston, MA: Macmillan.

Thornton, S. (2016). Karl Popper. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Web.

Wentz, E. A. (2014). How to design, write, and present a successful dissertation proposal. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Wiley. (n.d.). What is peer review? Web.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'The Value of the Peer Review Process in Academia'. 28 January.

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