Ethics of scientific peer review: Are we judging or helping the review recipients?
Traditionally, ethics of a profession or organization are laid down by their pioneers, or subtly emerge over time as the organization advance. Getting conversant to these ethics requires teaching new or upcoming professionals, in order to avoid any form of misconduct, either deliberately or unknowingly. Peer review has been used as a quality control measure in the scientific community to ensure that only novel, high-quality and significant research work can be published. Typically, experienced and well respected scientists are selected to review the work of their peers or other upcoming scientists. Ideally, people who ethically qualify as reviewers, should have high reputation in terms of their ability to give objective and well-informed judgement, write constructive and helpful critique in a timely manner and, are honest and open in revealing any conflict of interest that may exist. The key objectives of peer review are two fold: 1) summative - to assess the quality of scholarly work, and 2) formative - to provide constructive feedback and thus, to mentor authors to become both better researchers, and better writers.