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In journal peer review, editorial decisions on submitted manuscripts are informed by referees' expert recommendations; however, the choice of referees may affect these decisions. Using data from Angewandte Chemie International Edition (AC-IE), this study tested what would have happened if referee reports had been received in a different order. In AC-IE's peer-review process, a manuscript is generally published only if two referees rate the results of the study as important and also recommend publication in the journal (what we have called the 'clear-cut' rule). For 23% of those manuscripts for which a third referee report arrived after the editorial decision was made (37 of 162), this rule would have led to a different decision if the third report had replaced either of the others.
Learned Publishing is the journal of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, published in collaboration with the Society for Scholarly Publishing. The journal is published quarterly in January/April/July/October.
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