It started out with a tweet. I simply wanted to figure out how many traditional peer reviews students did during their PhD, mostly out of sheer curiosity. Here are the results below:
How many formal peer reviews did you do/have you done during your PhD?
— Dr. Jon Tennant (@Protohedgehog) June 22, 2016
So one-third of students never reviewed anything, and around one-fifth did more than 5. That’s quite some disparity, and now I wanna figure out why. As Chris Jackson followed up, this survey could be a gateway to a cool discussion about how people feel about PhD students undertaking peer reviews.
Another aspect emerged too. Of those students who had done peer reviews, were they invited personally, or asked to by their supervisors for whatever reason (training, laziness). So many questions have emerged from this.
How does this vary across disciplines? In fields like Geology, it seems that PhD students under-taking reviews is rare, but in others it seems fairly common. But in Palaeontology, a fairly related discipline, it seems that students undertaking reviews might be much more common.
What is the reason for those zero counts? Is it because people don’t trust PhD students to reviews? Is it because they don’t get asked? Do students reject them because they feel under-qualified and that they lack sufficient expertise to do a ‘proper’ job?
And for those students who do review, do they go solo or get support from their supervisors or their lab group? Do they receive formal training, or just get chucked in the deep end?
Why do Editors invite PhD students at all? How do we decide who is qualified and who is not? Should there be standards to define these sorts of things? How does this shift depending on the publication record of students?
Now, this poll only achieved 296 votes. While that might be a lot compared to most polls, it definitely falls short of what we might call comprehensive.
So my follow up is this. Is there scope here to take this to the next level? Is there a point in taking it to the next level? What would such a survey look like? How would we distribute it? Would it lead to a publication?
If any of these questions above interest you, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s get things rolling! 🙂