Changing Times in Peer Review

For Peer Review Week 2023, ASPB is asking the community to weigh in on topics affecting peer reviewers in scientific publishing


This year’s theme for Peer Review Week is “The Future of Publishing,” and with such a lofty theme, there’s one direction the conversation naturally goes: artificial intelligence (AI).

While much of the conversation around AI in scientific publishing centers on the use of large language models (LLMs) and generative AI to create text and images, there’s another aspect of AI affecting—and potentially threatening—the integrity of peer review. As AI tools are tested, used, and banned (in some cases), there are arguments in favor of using AI to assist with peer review to relieve reviewers of the daunting burden that is peer review. Hosseini notes that ChatGPT, with its grammatically sound output, may be a welcome assistant to generate letters and other report components for peer reviewers. In a blog by BMC, ChatGPT itself says that it can help sort submissions and assess the quality of research. The US National Institutes of Health (NIH), however, have banned the use of AI tools and LLMs, citing a breach of confidentiality as its primary concern. The National Science Foundation is still working out its guidance.

With these changing times ahead, this year’s acknowledgement of Peer Review Week centers on the reviewer experience. ASPB is asking members of its scientific community to join conversations initiated via questions on social media and via Plantae’s discussion boards.

Log in or create a free account on Plantae to respond to the questions below!

Question 1. As peer reviewers navigate increasing demand and their own personal and professional responsibilities, what process changes in peer review can relieve pressure on reviewers?

Question 2. Transparent peer review is a priority for many publishers, but there can be challenges, including a lack of confidence in publishing unedited commentary for reviewers who are non-native English speakers. How can publishers support reviewers to feel confident participating in this process?

Question 3. Generative AI tools are rapidly changing the way content and images are created, but what about how research articles are analyzed and evaluated? What role will peer reviewers play with increasing use of AI in scientific writing?

Question 4. One way generative AI tools have been used, or banned, is in peer review or the preparation of peer review reports. What do you think? How would you feel as an author receiving an AI-generated peer review report?

Question 5. Successful peer review happens because of the scientists who consistently step up, share their expertise, provide constructive comments, and help to ensure the integrity of plant science research in Plant Physiology, The Plant Cell, and Plant Direct. Sending a huge THANK YOU to those who are part of the ASPB peer review community! How can journals show appreciation for highly engaged and responsive peer reviewers?

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In Case You Missed It: Peer Review Week 2022 Webinar

“Damage Done: Overinterpretation of Data” Featuring Larry York, staff scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Editor-in-Chief of Plant Direct, and Toby Kellogg, principal investigator at the Donald Danforth Center. Moderated by T. Don Nguyen, manager of research & strategic initiatives at the University of British Columbia and Assistant Features Editor for Plant Physiology.

Three people having a virtual meeting


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