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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 32  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 137
Surrogate reviewers

Division of Pedodontics & Preventive Dentistry, Centre for Dental Education and Research, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India

Click here for correspondence address and email

Date of Submission06-Jul-2020
Date of Decision27-Feb-2021
Date of Acceptance28-Feb-2021
Date of Web Publication13-Jul-2021

How to cite this article:
Tewari N, Gangadharrao MR, Mathur VP, Goel S. Surrogate reviewers. Indian J Dent Res 2021;32:137

How to cite this URL:
Tewari N, Gangadharrao MR, Mathur VP, Goel S. Surrogate reviewers. Indian J Dent Res [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Oct 7];32:137. Available from:

Dear Editor,

In the constantly changing world of medical research, there are certain grey areas or forbidden sacraments that have been known but seldom revealed. One such fact is the existence of “Surrogate Reviewers”. A surrogate reviewer is a person who performs the review of a scientific work assigned to another person and may or may not derive benefits out of it. Most of these academic stalwarts are also part of research organizations, scientific meetings, journals, funding agencies and government bodies.[1] As a result, they are burdened with a lot of documents and proposals, which are to be reviewed within a stipulated period.1 This is also related to the narrowing of the pyramid of expertise, which warrants the scientific agencies trying to have a smaller number of acclaimed academicians to be part of their decision-making system.

Some of such senior persons may ask their postgraduate students, Ph.D. scholars or junior staff to review a manuscript for them. This practice may be prevalent in many parts of the world. Though it may be taken as an exercise to train students or scholars working as a team, yet it is mostly a forced work given which cannot be refused. If this makes the inexperienced researcher, work and know more about the area of the proposal along with learning to concisely draft the remarks or adds to the review being conducted independently by the principal reviewer, it is an acceptable exercise. However, if this is just a re-allocation of work with no or minor input by the senior reviewer, it may be objectionable.

Sometimes such surrogate reviews can be biased or substandard and have comment generalization without adequate emphasis on value addition.[2] Another aspect is the compromise of the confidentiality of scientific data that had been shared. As a result, we come across complaints of plagiarism and unethical practices in the pious world of medical research. As per the Office of Research Integrity, USA such passing of review is acceptable only if it is done with prior permission from the editor mentioning that this particular process will be used for training the junior in process of review and the main reviewer takes the final responsibility of the quality and confidentiality.[3] Hence, it is imperative for reputed scientific journals, organizations, and regulatory bodies to develop guidelines to strengthen the system of scientific reviews and safeguard from global malpractices.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Kovanis M, Porcher R, Ravaud P, Trinquart L. The global burden of journal peer review in the biomedical literature: Strong imbalance in the collective enterprise. PLoS One 2016;11:e0166387.  Back to cited text no. 1
COPE ethical guidelines for peer reviewers. Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). Available from: [Last accessed on 2020 Mar 09].  Back to cited text no. 2
The Office of Research Integrity. United States Department of Health and Human Services. ORI resources for publication and authorship. Available from: [Last accessed on 2020 Mar 09].  Back to cited text no. 3

Correspondence Address:
Nitesh Tewari
Division of Pedodontics & Preventive Dentistry, 6th Floor, Centre for Dental Education & Research, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi - 110 029
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijdr.IJDR_685_20

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