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26/07/2022 - General information

Should reviewers of scientific journal articles be paid a wage?

This is the question that Dr. Daniel Guinart, Dr. Víctor Pérez and Dr. Benedikt Amann, researchers from the Neurosciences Research Programme at the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute, attempt to answer in a letter recently published in The Lancet.

The role peer reviewers of scientific articles play and the debate on whether their work should be remunerated are the focus of a letter by Dr. Daniel Guinart, Dr. Víctor Pérez and Dr. Benedikt Amann, researchers from the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute's Neurosciences Research Programme (IMIM-Hospital del Mar) that has been published in The Lancet. It is a voluntary task, based on a "code of honour", as the authors put it, but which in recent times has become an exploitative system.

The system, which is not without potential flaws, involves scientists voluntarily reviewing each other's articles, with the understanding that they will receive the same treatment in the future. But open access policies have not solved the structural problems. In fact, "These policies have contributed to creating a system of predatory journal exploitation, run by corporations that make huge profits by charging researchers and universities exorbitant fees while failing to compensate reviewers for their time and effort", say Drs. Guinart, Pérez and Amann.

The scientific community has reacted by ceasing to offer these services in protest, but also as a sign of their exhaustion. This is causing the system to collapse. There are no reviewers, delays in the publication of articles are piling up and the quality of the reviews is dropping. The authors of the letter therefore conclude that "The time has come for reviewers to be paid for their time."

Reference article

Guinart D, Pérez-Sola V, Amann BL. A fair day's wage for a fair day's work. Lancet. 2022 Jul 16;400(10347):160. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(22)00920-5. PMID: 35843243.

From left to right: Dr Daniel Guinart, Dr Víctor Pérez and Dr. Benedikt Amann.

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