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Ethics in Peer Review of Academic Journal Articles as Perceived by Authors in the Educational Sciences

Abstract

This research examined the experiences of authors of academic journal articles in the educational sector of all eight universities in Finland. The ethical principles of peer review and best and worst review processes were in focus. Data were gathered by electronic questionnaire, which was completed by 121 respondents who represented well the heterogeneity of the staff in the educational sector. Out of nine ethical principles honesty, constructiveness, and impartiality were appreciated but promptness, balance, and diplomacy were criticized. According to two open questions, a third of authors praised and blamed reviewers as experts and non-experts. The accuracy of feedback was more often present in the best rather than in the worst experienced review processes. Journals’ editors and their decision-making called forth more negative than positive accounts. The results were discussed in the context of ethical codes for reviewers and researchers’ findings regarding the ethical responsibilities to promote good science with thorough, appropriate, and honest feedback and feedforward.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. During the years 2011–2017, education scientists at Finnish universities published 418–603 peer-reviewed articles per year (Vipunen 2017).

  2. The single Swedish-speaking educational faculty (Åbo Akademi University) was excluded due to the high costs of translating the long questionnaire into Swedish. Some data was also lost because of the lack of an English version of the questionnaire (in 2017, about 50 faculty members who received the questionnaire did not speak Finnish).

  3. The stage I = young researchers working on their doctoral dissertation. The stage II = researchers who have recently completed their doctorate. The III stage = independent research and education professionals capable of academic leadership. The IV stage = professorship. (Ministry of Education 2007). In this data: Phase I = 17%, Phase II = 28%, Phase III = 29% and Phase IV = 26%. In the population (Vipunen 2017): respective percentages were 12, 35, 22 and 32.

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Correspondence to Päivi Atjonen.

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Atjonen, P. Ethics in Peer Review of Academic Journal Articles as Perceived by Authors in the Educational Sciences. J Acad Ethics 16, 359–376 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10805-018-9308-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10805-018-9308-3

Keywords

  • Peer-review
  • Journal articles
  • Educational sciences