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The “invisible hand” of peer review: The implications of author-referee networks on peer review in a scholarly journal

Dondio, Pierpaolo, Casnici, Niccolò, Grimaldo, Francisco, Gilbert, Nigel and Squazzoni, Flaminio (2019) The “invisible hand” of peer review: The implications of author-referee networks on peer review in a scholarly journal Journal of Informetrics, 13 (2). pp. 708-716.

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Peer review is not only a quality screening mechanism for scholarly journals. It also connects authors and referees either directly or indirectly. This means that their positions in the network structure of the community could influence the process, while peer review could in turn influence subsequent networking and collaboration. This paper aims to map these complex network implications by looking at 2232 author/referee couples in an interdisciplinary journal that uses double blind peer review. By reconstructing temporal co-authorship networks, we found that referees tended to recommend more positively submissions by authors who were within three steps in their collaboration network. We also found that co-authorship network positions changed after peer review, with the distances between network neighbours decreasing more rapidly than could have been expected had the changes been random. This suggests that peer review could not only reflect but also create and accelerate scientific collaboration.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > Department of Sociology
Authors :
Dondio, Pierpaolo
Casnici, Niccolò
Grimaldo, Francisco
Squazzoni, Flaminio
Date : May 2019
DOI : 10.1016/j.joi.2019.03.018
Copyright Disclaimer : © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC-BY-NC-ND license (
Uncontrolled Keywords : Peer review; Author-referee networks; Co-authorship network; Collaboration; Scholarly journals
Depositing User : Clive Harris
Date Deposited : 03 May 2019 12:49
Last Modified : 03 May 2019 12:49

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