If the reviewer had been someone else, what would the comments on our manuscript have been? Short essay on the peer review process

Asai Atsushi, Xu Hua, Fukuyama Miki, Ohnishi Motoki, Kadooka Yasuhiro
Volume 6 Issue 1 Pages 1-16
First Published: September 11, 2023
[in Japanese]



Peer review is an important process to evaluate and improve the quality of manuscripts submitted to journals. Peer review guidelines and related ethical principles have been published to improve this process. Notwithstanding, some reviewers provide inappropriate comments and misconduct can also occur. Thus far, we have been fortunate to receive helpful advice during the peer review process from reviewers to improve our submitted manuscripts in the biomedical ethics field. Yet, in considering the process itself, we are faced with several fundamental concerns, such as the possibility that chance plays into both the selection of reviewers and their comments, and the unhealthy attitudes of authors when responding to reviewers’ comments. Such issues inevitably arise in situations where people evaluate and judge others. An awareness of the inherent limitations of the peer review process and understanding of Lao Tzu’s critique of excessive meritocracy can lead to more productive relationships between authors and reviewers and healthier attitudes of researchers toward competitive scholarly activities.


Key words

Peer Review, Chance, Power imbalance, Excessive Meritocracy, Lao Tzu