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Zeeshan's Spotlight story: PeerMiles Recognising Academic Reviewers

Kiran Parmar, Wednesday 14 July 2021 | Annotate
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As part of our summer series of interviews with KMi people, this week’s spotlight falls on Zeeshan Jan, PhD Student

What are you researching right now?

I am in the final phase of conducting my research about the academic peer-reviewing process, which is thesis write-up. The peer-reviewing process is perceived as the backbone of academic research publishing. Researchers leading this hectic task are rarely acknowledged and incentivised. My study aims to accumulate their scattered work, recognise and appreciate their reviewing activity, and incentivise their invaluable efforts. For more information, please visit the website.

Peer reviewers are essential to science. What makes a good peer reviewer?

The perception of being a good reviewer varies with how researchers consider different aspects while assessing reviews and peer-reviewers. For example, these aspects include:

  • The level of constructive criticism by reviewers
  • How detailed a review is
  • How complete an inspection is
  • If a study has recommendations and suggestions for improvements
  • The length and tone of a review.

What have you learned about what drives them and makes them want to contribute?

Researchers take peer-reviewing as their moral obligation to give back to the research community. They spend an enormous amount of time reviewing articles written by other researchers. Their reviewing activity brings more knowledge to them about new research. It informs them about the state of the art of different research areas. Researchers' reviewing activity usually gets mentioned on their CVs and the websites of conferences they participate in. This is how research proceeds.

What's your solution?

The websites of different journals, conferences and workshops mention their reviewing committee members, so a researcher's reviewing activity may spread across multiple places on the web. PeerMiles enables conference management to accumulate, acknowledge and incentivise peer-reviewers' contributions using disruptive technologies. Suppose anyone has doubts about the integrity of a researcher's reviewing contributions; in that case, they can verify these contributions with a simple mouse click.

Now, we know this is a doctoral research project, but do you think people will use it?

As it directly impacts researchers (involved in both peer-reviewing and conference management) in establishing their peer-reviewing contributions across multiple journals, conferences and workshops, they will use it. My work also brings decentralisation at a certain level, enabling conference management to act independently. This independence will help conference management record reviewers' services without depending upon a centralised platform. Then researchers would be able to access/use their verifiable history without depending upon any platform. It does not keep confidential information (passwords/keys); therefore, researchers would trust the system.

Well, that sounds pretty promising! What's next for you after your PhD?

I would want to continue my journey and quest to investigate concerns in academia and address them using disruptive technologies. I would like to focus on exploring decentralised technologies, including distributed ledgers and blockchains, and see if they could help address the issues pertinent to academia.

Now, we know this is a doctoral research project, but do you think people will use it?

As it directly impacts researchers (involved in both peer-reviewing and conference management) in establishing their peer-reviewing contributions across multiple journals, conferences and workshops, they will use it. My work also brings decentralisation at a certain level, enabling conference management to act independently. This independence will help conference management record reviewers' services without depending upon a centralised platform. Then researchers would be able to access/use their verifiable history without depending upon any platform. It does not keep confidential information (passwords/keys); therefore, researchers would trust the system.

Connected

Zeeshan Jan Photograph

Zeeshan Jan

PhD Research Student

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