Integrity in Peer Review: Inviting Reviewers with Confidence though Scopus

In a world marked by plagiarism, citation and data fabrication/manipulation, conflicts of interest, reproducibility concerns, fraudulent peer review, questionable authorship and other challenges – maintaining integrity in scholarly publishing has never been more critical and more complex. Frequent corrections, retractions, or cases of unethical practices are not only damaging to the reputation of the journal, but may also be detrimental to the communities in which the research is intended to serve. Acting as the gatekeepers to sound scholarship, peer Reviewers are essential to confirming the validity, quality, trustworthiness, and (in some cases) the originality of submitted research.

To help uphold and protect the integrity standards of the scholarly record, it is imperative for journal Editors to carefully select suitable Reviewers. However, locating and securing qualified and available Reviewers are a significant roadblock for publishers, and the screening process is also highly manual, time consuming, and inconsistent. Publishers increasingly rely on external databases and third-party search tools to compensate for their overburdened and limited diverse pool of candidates. With this, however, they are often left with rigid systems that offer little visibility into the researcher’s background and are potentially subject to bias if rooted in AI technology. This can create additional barriers and uncertainty when screening researchers as potential review candidates, wasting valuable resources and opening an opportunity for compromised research quality.

To alleviate these pain points, Aries has established collaborations with several technology providers to offer integrated Reviewer search solutions within Editorial Manager® (EM) through our ecosystem of connected tools. Our partnership and integration with Find Reviewers using Scopus offers a more efficient, fair, and data-driven approach to the Reviewer invitation workflow. In addition to expanding and diversifying the journal’s Reviewer network, the dynamic search engine through Scopus also comes equipped with advanced conflict of interest (COI) detection capabilities to automate the candidate screening process. The research results pulled from Scopus are based only on the parameters chosen by the Editor, not by machine learning which may be subject to bias. Find Reviewers using Scopus pulls relevant insights for each researcher’s profile from Scopus, allowing Editors to conduct in-depth examinations of the candidate’s expertise, content matches, affiliated co-Authors, additional keywords and subject areas, publication history and citation statics, fundings awarded, and more.

As Editors review their search results, Find Reviewers using Scopus conveniently displays visual warning indicators of potential COIs on researcher profiles, such as shared institutional affiliation or publication history with the manuscript’s Author. The system will also automatically label and exclude inappropriate candidates from the search results entirely if more critical conflict concerns are detected. For example, the system may automatically exclude a candidate from the search results if the researcher had published with one or more of the manuscript’s Authors in the last three years, but will just display a warning indicator for another candidate that has published with one or more Authors in the last five years. Editors may independently manage the researcher COI list in-application, adding or clearing candidates as needed during their evaluation. If the Editor attempts to invite a researcher with a potential conflict of interest, the system alerts the Editor of the conflict prior to confirming their selection, allowing the Editor to manually bypass the warning and proceed or to reconsider their choice.

These automated COI features save Editors valuable time evaluating candidates manually, reducing administrative burden on editorial staff, streamlining the Reviewer invitation process, and minimizing delays to publication. With transparency and the flexibility to manage flagged COIs in the system, Find Reviewers using Scopus drives impartial, confident Reviewer invitations, strengthening the rigor and quality of submitted reviews.

To see the seamless integration of Find Reviewers using Scopus and Editorial Manager in action, check out the video below or our recent webinar. To take advantage of this powerful solution for your EM sites, contact your Aries Account Coordinator or request a free demonstration.