Correspondence | Published:

‘Referee factor’ would reward a vital contribution

Naturevolume 441page812 (2006) | Download Citation


  • A Correction to this article was published on 28 June 2006


At a time when academia is increasingly focused on measures of performance, there is no provision for those who referee articles, even though the process is onerous, time-consuming and critical to the advance of science. For the system to be fair, all scientists should be refereeing two to three times as many articles as they submit.

The solution is simple. Some journals already acknowledge referees at the end of each year, but if this process were standardized for all journals, each stating the number of manuscripts seen by individuals, the data could be compiled by a suitable mechanism such as Google Scholar. The results could ultimately be translated into a ‘referee factor’, consisting of the sum of the impact factors for the respective journals multiplied by the number of articles reviewed. Multiple versions of the same manuscript probably need not be factored in, as the work involved in assessing revisions is considerably less than that for previously unseen contributions. The ‘referee factor’ could be built into standard assessments of performance, acting as an incentive for people to review manuscripts and otherwise making attitudes apparent.

See Nature's web debate on peer review at

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See Nature's web debate on peer review at

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  1. Biological Sciences, University of Wales Swansea, Singleton Park, Swansea, SA2 8PP, Wales, UK

    • Rory Wilson


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