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Posted by plosmedicine on 31 Mar 2009 at 00:05 GMT

Author: Michael Callaham
Position: Division of Emergency Medicine
Institution: University of California, San Francisco
Submitted Date: February 09, 2007
Published Date: February 9, 2007
This comment was originally posted as a “Reader Response” on the publication date indicated above. All Reader Responses are now available as comments.

Dr. Ignacio García Doval raises an interesting question - if a reviewer initially proves themselves of high quality at a particular journal, can we count on them to continue in this vein?

We have not examined this as thoroughly as the predictive factors, but we have found that good reviewers, on average, continue to produce good reviews for many years. However, their performance is not so consistent that one can completely ignore monitoring them, because a modest proportion will deteriorate, presumably due to changes in their personal or professional lives. We have had reviewers who were reliably good for many years, but whose scores then steadily deteriorated until we were forced to retire them.

This reinforces our recommendation that all but the most resource-poor journals should routinely rate reviewers, something not hard to do in this era of ubiquitous computer databases. We recommend a look at those ratings about once a year, and feedback of some kind to those doing poorly. Another benefit is that this also identifies the high performers, who can then be rewarded in some way for their donated labor (a note of thanks, inexpensive objects with your journal logo, free CME for their review time, etc.). Consistent very high perfomers also serve as a good source for future editorial board appointments.

No competing interests declared.