Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 169–188 | Cite as

Ensuring the Quality, Fairness, and Integrity of Journal Peer Review: A Possible Role of Editors

  • David B. ResnikEmail author
  • Susan A. Elmore
Original Paper


A growing body of literature has identified potential problems that can compromise the quality, fairness, and integrity of journal peer review, including inadequate review, inconsistent reviewer reports, reviewer biases, and ethical transgressions by reviewers. We examine the evidence concerning these problems and discuss proposed reforms, including double-blind and open review. Regardless of the outcome of additional research or attempts at reforming the system, it is clear that editors are the linchpin of peer review, since they make decisions that have a significant impact on the process and its outcome. We consider some of the steps editors should take to promote quality, fairness and integrity in different stages of the peer review process and make some recommendations for editorial conduct and decision-making.


Peer review Quality Fairness Integrity Ethics Reliability Bias Editors Publication 



David B. Resnik is Associate Editor of Accountability in Research. Susan A. Elmore is Editor and Editor-in-Chief of Toxicologic Pathology. This research is supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), National Institutes of Health (NIH). It does not represent the views of the NIEHS, NIH, or U.S. government.

Conflict of interest

The authors disclose no conficts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht (outside the USA) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute of Environmental Health SciencesNational Institutes of HealthResearch Triangle ParkUSA
  2. 2.National Toxicology Program, National Institute of Environmental Health SciencesNational Institutes of HealthResearch Triangle ParkUSA

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