Hostile peer review

What is this about?

Peer review is an important part of the scientific process. Scientists usually value peer work honesty and benevolence, but sometimes, for different reasons, reviewers take a different approach. They can be offensive or insulting, and such reviews are then considered hostile reviews.

Why is this important?

Peer review comments offer a space for growth, improvement of articles and increase the quality of reporting (1). Constrictive criticism is one of the most valuable qualities of a good review. However, when they are hostile they don’t provide adequate feedback. This way, a researcher misses out on the opportunity to improve work (2). Moreover, this type of review often has a negative impact on self-esteem, especially for young and inexperienced researchers.

For whom is this important?

Scientists, Researchers, Academic staff, Journal editors, Reviewers

What are the best practices?

It is difficult to cope with negative criticism, especially when it’s hostile in nature. Always keep in mind that any reviewer is a person, just like you (3). Maybe they were burdened with work, maybe they had a bad day at the office. It is nothing personal, and can happen to anybody. Think of anything useful that you can take from such a review. Maybe there is advice hidden under that unnecessary criticism? Speak with your superior, talk to your mentor. If you both consider that the review is insulting, consider raising that topic with the editor.


1. Manchikanti L, Kaye AD, Boswell MV, Hirsch JA. Medical journal peer review: process and bias. Pain Physician. 2015;18(1):E1-E14.

2. Bad peer reviewers. Nature. 2001;413(6852):93.

3. Kreiman J. On Peer Review: J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2016 Jun 1;59(3):480-3. doi: 10.1044/2016_JSLHR-S-16-0043.

Marin Viđak contributed to this theme.

Latest contribution was May 29, 2019