Tools used to assess the quality of peer review reports: a methodological systematic review

Abstract : BACKGROUND: A strong need exists for a validated tool that clearly defines peer review report quality in biomedical research, as it will allow evaluating interventions aimed at improving the peer review process in well-performed trials. We aim to identify and describe existing tools for assessing the quality of peer review reports in biomedical research. METHODS: We conducted a methodological systematic review by searching PubMed, EMBASE (via Ovid) and The Cochrane Methodology Register (via The Cochrane Library) as well as Google® for all reports in English describing a tool for assessing the quality of a peer review report in biomedical research. Data extraction was performed in duplicate using a standardized data extraction form. We extracted information on the structure, development and validation of each tool. We also identified quality components across tools using a systematic multi-step approach and we investigated quality domain similarities among tools by performing hierarchical, complete-linkage clustering analysis. RESULTS: We identified a total number of 24 tools: 23 scales and 1 checklist. Six tools consisted of a single item and 18 had several items ranging from 4 to 26. None of the tools reported a definition of 'quality'. Only 1 tool described the scale development and 10 provided measures of validity and reliability. Five tools were used as an outcome in a randomized controlled trial (RCT). Moreover, we classified the quality components of the 18 tools with more than one item into 9 main quality domains and 11 subdomains. The tools contained from two to seven quality domains. Some domains and subdomains were considered in most tools such as the detailed/thorough (11/18) nature of reviewer's comments. Others were rarely considered, such as whether or not the reviewer made comments on the statistical methods (1/18). CONCLUSION: Several tools are available to assess the quality of peer review reports; however, the development and validation process is questionable and the concepts evaluated by these tools vary widely. The results from this study and from further investigations will inform the development of a new tool for assessing the quality of peer review reports in biomedical research.
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Cecilia Superchi, José Antonio González, Ivan Solà, Erik Cobo, Darko Hren, et al.. Tools used to assess the quality of peer review reports: a methodological systematic review. BMC Medical Research Methodology, BioMed Central, 2019, 19 (1), pp.48. ⟨10.1186/s12874-019-0688-x⟩. ⟨inserm-02309545⟩

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