The editors of the Annals of Emergency Medicine rate the quality of reviews submitted by peer reviewers. Over 14 years, they collected close to 15,000 reviews from about 1,500 reviewers. Although originally for internal use, the ratings offered an opportunity to study the change in reviewers’ submissions over time.
In a study published earlier this year, the editors found that nearly all reviewers received lower quality ratings over time. Overall, the quality of reviews remained high because newly recruited reviewers turned in highly-scored reviews.
The authors speculate that their findings may provide evidence for cognitive decline as reviewers age. That seems overly speculative. More likely is that new reviewers take their responsibilities seriously while senior faculty have less to prove and more competing pressures on their time. Still, their experience makes them valuable voices in the peer review process.