Five benefits of peer review for academicians

July 10, 2019

By Dr Hanudin Amin

PEER review is a systematic evaluation of soundness, quality and novelty of academic work for publication.

The final goal of a peer review activity is to uphold the integrity of academic work by excluding not ready published articles. 

Yet, it also maintains the integrity of publishers of the work.

A peer review activity is also growing in Islamic banking disciplines like Islamic pawn financing and gold investment, to mention some. The reasons are three-fold:

Firstly, there exists an increased number of submitted articles to journals related to Islamic banking. In response to this concern, a peer review activity allows a better shared of expertise and experience in improving the quality of works done by academicians. Consequently, the impact brought by a peer review activity is a magnum opus and a pearl of wisdom.

Secondly, there are a growing number of young scholars who eager to write about Islamic banking and finance, but their knowledge is still at its infancy stage that requires guidance and direction.  This may explain why a peer review is required to help them grow without compromising the interest of existing and established scholars.

Thirdly, there are a group of scholars who have a piece of poor knowledge on the primary sources (i.e. the Quran and the Hadith) and Shariah principles but insist to write articles about Islamic banking and finance for recognition and personal gains. Without a peer review activity, I am afraid these scholars can bring the wrong messages about Islamic banking and finance, which may trigger fallacies to become hatred. A peer review provides a firewall for this exercise.

Being a peer reviewer, one should possess five axioms but are not limited to:

  • Love – A peer reviewer should love to write and review a manuscript to jack up his intellect and willingness to share such expertise with others through a peer review activity;
  • Consistency – A peer reviewer should learn to review manuscripts consistently to improve his contribution to the body of knowledge. When consistency is established, a new experience is discovered for improved intelligence;
  • Be the bee – If one tells us why bee matters? Bee eats well and produces well, and so do we as peer reviewers. When a good review work is done, one earns two benefits namely knowledge and spiritual generations;
  • Benevolence – A peer reviewer should judge the review activity is a method to help others to grow mainly for a newcomer in the academic world without hoping any financial reward in return. A peer review activity is a prosocial activity in the world of academia; and
  • Hobby – Lecturers who are hired by universities need to understand the logic of their duties, which are not confined to teaching per se but extendable to a peer review activity. If possible it should be considered as a hobby to build up a culture of peer review at universities to improve acculturation of new knowledge. I believe that one is well-versed to grasp this message profoundly.

Yet, some lecturers have scorned the weight of peer review activity mainly in phasing out of their aid in reviewing their companions’ works in the related field.

Instead, they pay attention to unattached activities in their professions.

Worse comes to worst, they define the unattached activities as significant to claim their active contributions to universities that they presently work and for that, they are recognised perhaps at least by the pain in the neck at the expense of their academic credentials. 

Even worse, they use others as a black sheep to get published and to be known in their discipline of knowledge.

The problem here is when they are recognised in disciplines that they do not belong to.

There is a provocative term that can be found in our society of academia to reflect this concern, at least in some universities, “Profesor Kangkung or WASP”. 

Alapkah denakan?  One of the Sabahan languages. Actually, it becomes so bad when generalisation comes into play.

Still, their number is small and manageable but somehow alarming if no measures are interjected to curb the behaviour accordingly.

I believe that our Malaysian scholars are highly ethically and contributed significantly to their body of knowledge. This is good, right!

As far as the benefits are concerned, I offer the top five benefits that are drawn from a peer review activity. These include: 

        FEEDBACK – a peer reviewer provides points that can improve the quality of the presentation and messages conveyed by writers that helps to improve the flow of thought or discussion. The points if established, can elevate the quality of works done and can attract the attention of the editor to publish the work, should a journal article is brought into play;

        VIEWPOINT – a peer review activity allows a peer review to gain a different perspective from a writer. A different point of view is rendered for avoiding a peer review to get into a personal bias and think beyond more boxes.  Consequently, a peer reviewer and a writer will appreciate a differing opinion to avoid good idea monopolisation. In turn, this improves our contribution to the body of knowledge in a diversified way;

        KNOWLEDGE – a peer review activity allows a new flow of idea or knowledge to the public, where a new discovery is shared with editor and peer reviewers, mainly in journal publication. This knowledge can open a new spectrum of performing new research in the area concerned. Believe it or not, everyone has different knowledge and such a discrepancy exists out of our differences in cognitive, affective and conative built in our own atmosphere and the surrounding area that we live in;

        RECOGNITION – when an editor appoints you to review, it indicates that he knew you in the area that you exist. To develop such recognition, one should read, publish and review to welcome himself as a scholar in the area he intends to. One should start by publishing one article beginning by today, and as always don’t wait for a perfect time to publish. There is no right time for publication since peer review evaluation itself is unpredictable. If you are lucky enough, your work can be published only in a year.  Your work tends to be reviewed by a peer reviewer and that will give value-added to your work. On the other hand, you will also be invited to review other manuscripts. More importantly, try to ‘sell’ yourself often as a reviewer to improve your recognition. By helping yourself, God will help you! Offer yourself; and

        ACCURACY – a submitted manuscript to journal sometimes suffers from human errors, mainly when the theory used along with the analysis are wrongly described.  The direction offered by an article deviates from the actual theories and principles.  Sometimes, the authors are not from the discipline but intend to write it owing to a belief that it’s easy to get published by engaging in such a discipline.  A peer review is aimed at assuring the published manuscript is in its excellent form and free from any errors. When good work gets published, it becomes a solid grounds for others to make a good literature review that can advance knowledge in the area concerned.

In all, a peer review activity is nothing but significant for all academicians. There is no exemption! All are connected.

Lecturers at universities have endowed with multiple tasks, and they are not confined to teaching alone but also to other ranges of unexplained tasks here.

More importantly at least to me, the core task for academicians is ‘reading’ that secures for secondary activities to follow like learning, teaching, research, publication, presentation, consultation and peer review that grow their existence in the world of academia.

*Dr Hanudin Amin is an associate professor at Labuan Faculty of International Finance, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Labuan International Campus. He has a PhD from the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) in Islamic Banking and Finance (PG310163). He can be contacted at hanudin@ums.edu.my

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