The role of peer-review in developing my dual educator-researcher identity by Ayman Hefnawi

Posted in: Doctoral Exchange

A student blog as part of the Doctoral Exchange series organised by the Doctoral College.


The doctoral exchange session was a great opportunity to share, discuss and exchange ideas with like-minded researchers from the University of Bath. The conversation was generally informal, allowing everyone to voice their views, ambitions, and concerns regarding the topic of the roundtable discussion - developing our identity as professional researchers. The discussion appears to have prompted several colleagues to consider serving as peer reviewers for academic journals in their fields of study.

The session began with everyone introducing themselves and discussing their research interests. I next asked interactive questions to determine how active the attendees were in publishing in peer-reviewed journals and serving as peer-reviewers. The conversation then moved on to the challenges of peer-reviewing, with me reflecting on my own experience as a peer-reviewer. The imposter syndrome, which makes you doubt your ability and legitimacy to operate as a reviewer, was central to my challenge. I informed my colleagues about how I accepted the challenge and used the peer-review invitation as a learning opportunity.

We then considered the advantages of peer review, which, in my experience, may give unlimited chances for learning and improvement, particularly in terms of improving one's ability to publish in peer-reviewed journals. For example, your ability to understand and respond to reviewers’ comments, which increases your chances of having your research published.

Then we spoke about peer-reviewer’s responsibilities, emphasising the importance of ethical considerations. The purpose and impact of the delivered feedback, which reviewers must carefully assess, were significant aspects during the conversation. The purpose is to provide constructive feedback, which implies it must be relevant and ethical. The author, journal, and associated field of research are all included in the impact domains. Some of my fellow doctoral researchers shared their experience as authors and as peer-reviewers. Others were curious to know more about the checklist form that reviewers fill out when they submit their reviews, on which I shed some light.

I asked my colleagues to answer an interactive question regarding their willingness to function as journal reviewers at the end of the session, and the responses were mainly favourable! As a result, I wrapped up the session by proposing some resources that might help them understand what peer review is, as well as the benefits and responsibilities. Some of the participants acknowledged their gratitude for the opportunity to discuss their thoughts and experiences in follow-up emails. They also liked how the questions were interactive, with real-time response on the screen that sparked more conversation or suggestions. Some colleagues recommend delving into the major component of the peer-review checklist using a paper as a review example.

Posted in: Doctoral Exchange


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