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Personally I believe publication process is not optimized at all and is too wasteful. There are numerous problems associated with it, however, here I just point out one of those. Due to formal presentation of papers, usually reading a scientific paper especially in field of science and engineering is time consuming. There are some points in the paper that only a specialist of that very field would notice. This is why the journal editors assign reviewers to judge the paper quality. Usually these expert reviewers would see insightful points on the paper, which would take a newbie months to notice. Having said that

  1. I wonder why the publication does not provide review comments alongside the paper? does it harm anything?
  2. Would be OK if we ask the editor for the comments of an specific paper? if yes, how?

I think it would be a good idea for publishers to publish reviewer comments of papers as well, they can even make more money and reading and understanding papers would be easier.

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    Actually the idea in optimal conditions is that the comments are somehow incorporated (by mentioning or answering to them) in the article, so there is no need to provide them separately – BioGeo Jan 26 '17 at 20:51
  • After a while I find the website I was seeking! trialsjournal.biomedcentral.com – MimSaad Mar 14 '17 at 12:52
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It would probably harm the reviewing process itself as it stands at the moment. Many reviewers only agree to review, because they can be anonymous and their comments are confidential. I therefore do not believe, that any editor of a traditional journal would give you access to the reviewer comments on a paper, however you ask.

Having said that, there are some recent developments in some journals, which I appreciate a lot, and which go in that direction:

  1. Copernicus Publications is promoting an open review process. All manuscripts are published in a discussions version (pre-review), and reviewer comments are published and archived together with the article (and can always be referred to from the finally published paper).
  2. Frontiers is promoting non-anaonymous reviews. The reviewers are mentioned by name on the title page of each article. In my opinion, this increases the quality and objectivity of reviews a lot.
  3. There is always the possibility to publish additional reviews after publication on post-publication peer review sites, like PubPeer. Those can help you to find errors in already published articles, which may have evaded the original manuscript reviewers.
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The peer review process, though not perfect, is one of the best ways to ensure high quality research. When one thinks of it, what are the true alternatives? Having an autonomous editor who approves everything or not based on his own experience is hardly objective.

As far as I understand it, you're proposing that publications publish imperfect papers with peer review comments alongside, or that the journals publish revised papers with peer review comments alongside. In the case of the former, it doesn't credit a journal or a discipline to publish knowingly imperfect papers and in the case of the latter, the reviewers' comments would already have been integrated into the text. Yes, it is time consuming reading papers, but peer reviewers only tend to highlight what they think needs improving. The academically sound material would not necessarily be addressed in comments.

If you are proposing that peer review comments make up a kind of 'summary' of the paper, that is not always the case. If a paper has minor amendments suggested the peer review comments could be just one or two lines for a paper which is thousands of words long. You'd still have to read the whole thing. If they request major revisions they will still only address what they think needs to be revised.

I'm sure many authors certainly wouldn't want a sub-par quality paper published with peer review comments alongside when they then know how the paper could be improved. It's much better to just get on and make the improvements. Yes, reading these papers takes time, but there's no short cut to hard work, and that's as true in academia as any profession.

  • Thank you for the great explanation. My question was not out of laziness :) . I prefer Stackexchange review type,where you can find what and how is something changed. – MimSaad Jan 26 '17 at 15:08
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I wonder why the publication does not provide review comments alongside the paper? does it harm anything?

Usually, the reviewer do just not include the information you want in their reports and if they do, the authors address this in their revision.

Reviewers are asked to review the paper based on correctness, quality, impact and similar things. They also provide a short summary of the paper in the beginning of the review, but this is often very short. If the reviewer think that the presentation of the paper can be improved, e.g. to make a contribution/problem/subtle point more visible, they would suggest this in the review and the authors are asked to improve the situation.

In most cases there would be no harm a-posteriori, but knowing this in advance would probably change the way, the reviewer writes their review. Also note that the comments of the reviewer would be for a previous version of the paper, and hence, you need to read more to understand what the review means. So, I don't think, that this would shorted the time to digest a paper.

Would be OK if we ask the editor for the comments of an specific paper? if yes, how?

In most cases this will not work, since the reviewer agree to write review under the promise that the information in confidential. So, the editors shall not release the reviews.

On a different note:

Due to formal presentation of papers, usually reading a scientific paper especially in field of science and engineering is time consuming.

I think you are wrong here: Reading paper is time consuming because science is hard, not always because the presentation is bad. Even reading textbooks is time consuming, and there are not too many "formal requirements" for textbooks (and a very different review process), so that authors of textbooks can write more or less freely as they want.

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    In general this is correct. But, there will always be cases when authors do not apply crucial changes requested by the reviewers, and some editors nevertheless publish the article. In such cases it can be of great value to see what was actually criticised, and what was changed in the end. – Manuel Weinkauf Jan 26 '17 at 17:10
  • @Manuel Weinkauf, you can say it again! – MimSaad Jan 27 '17 at 7:15
  • @Dirk , I admit science is hard, however, sometimes people complicate what they've done in their paper , I don;t know, may be to hide their faults! Reviewer usually notices this, and provide a plaint English explain of what authors have done. By simplification, I meant this. – MimSaad Jan 27 '17 at 7:18

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