DEFINITION of 'Peer Review'
A process by which one's colleagues assess the quality and accuracy of one's research papers. Peer review is most frequently employed within academia, where professors evaluate each others' work before it is published in major research journals.
The system of peer review is used because, in much high-level academic work, there are relatively few experts in the world with sufficient knowledge to properly critique new research findings. For example, many theories in economics and finance are peer reviewed before they are published in journals.
BREAKING DOWN 'Peer Review'
Peer review is sometimes criticized where reviewers are perceived to be unfair in their assessments. Since review is most often anonymous, there is little accountability for reviewers. This can lead to problems where, for instance, reviewers may be biased against work which is not in accordance with mainstream theory.
In addition, peer review is often a slow process. Reviewing work does not bring prestige in the way that generating new research does. Thus, reviewing others' work is often a lower priority. Since peer review often goes through several rounds, it may take months or years to complete the process.