Peer Review in the Sciences
Although all of the suggestions we’ve offered so far also apply to peer review in the sciences, we wanted to provide a few other reasons and resources for incorporating peer review in the science classroom.
Peer review can provide important professionalization to undergraduate scientists.
- Students in introductory courses might benefit from a brief introduction to the history and current practice of peer review like the one presented in the overview “Peer Review in Scientific Publishing,” which is written for non-science majors but provides useful models of professional peer review responses.
- Students in advanced classes might benefit from the comparisons between classroom peer review and its processional counterpart outlined in the article “Designing Peer Review for Pedagogical Success: What Can We Learn from Professional Science?”
Peer review can be tailored to more closely reflect the professional peer review process.
- Students in intermediate and advanced courses may try all of the steps of academic publishing, including drafting a letter of inquiry, submitting an article for review, and responding to reviewers’ comments. “Teaching Peer Review and the Process of Scientific Writing” details the methods and results of such an approach in a Cell and Molecular Biology class.
- “Teaching Undergraduates the Process of Peer Review: Learning by Doing” provides an account of a similar, semester-long project including prepared rebuttals to reviewer comments that was developed for a Health Sciences class.
Peer review can be adapted to suit a number of genres of science writing.
- The authors of “Peer Review in the Classroom” provide examples of the peer review questions they gave students working on research reports in a Systems Modeling and Simulation class.
- In “NSF-Style Peer Review for Teaching Undergraduate Grant Writing,” the authors include the peer review forms students used to provide feedback on one another’s grant proposals.
As the authors of “Integrating Content Detail and Critical Reasoning by Peer Review” argue, peer review can fill a significant gap in undergraduate science education: “Typical exams in advanced courses ask students to evaluate and design experiments. These exams, however, do not address key aspects of graduate training, including the student’s ability to apply ideas from one field to another, to choose among multiple technologies to answer a specific question, to comment effectively on a peer’s approach, or to respond to criticisms of one’s own thinking.”