Young Scientist Working in The Laboratory

What Does It Mean to Be Peer-Reviewed?

Written by MacuHealth
Reviewed by Jim Stringham, Ph.D.

Nutritional supplements are notoriously unregulated, meaning that companies can make false claims about their products and put inactive ingredients in their formulations. As bad as this may sound, it has happened.

So, who can you trust?  The most effective way to evaluate any product claims is to examine the science (if any) conducted on it.  Some companies may conduct in-house scientific testing and often advertise their “findings” on their website or social media. Yet, the most trusted and respected form of science is called peer-reviewed.

But what does being peer-reviewed mean to patients? We’ll define what the term means and review what research must undergo to achieve this status.

What Does Peer-Reviewed Mean?

In a nutshell, a peer-reviewed publication is what the name suggests: a scientific investigation thoroughly analyzed by at least two other independent researchers (peers) in the same area of study. More specifically, the peer review process is a form of quality control intended to weed out poorly researched work in order to maintain a scientific journal’s integrity. But to fully understand what becoming “peer-reviewed” is, it’s necessary to understand the distinction between a piece found in a widely published periodical or on social media and a bona fide scholarly article.

Before a newspaper or a magazine publishes an article, an editor checks it for, among other things, readability by a large audience. It then undergoes a fact-checking process to ensure that the writer’s story is correct and that any facts or statistics used in the article haven’t changed. There is usually one person designated to do this, and often, the author, editor or fact-checker is not an expert in a particular field.

When a scholar sends their research for publication to a journal, the editor ensures that it’s written for an audience of researchers, which means it’ll contain terms typically understood by experts. But instead of sending to one person for a fact-check, the journal’s editor sends these findings to peers as an extra step in the publication process.

“Peer-reviewed publication is a scientific investigation thoroughly analyzed by at least two other independent researchers (peers) in the same area of study. More specifically, the peer review process is a form of quality control intended to weed out poorly researched work in order to maintain a scientific journal’s integrity.”

The Process of Becoming Peer-Reviewed

The method of peer-reviewing can be complicated and lengthy. According to the American Psychological Association, here are the four steps of the journey:

  1. A scholar submits their research paper to a journal. The publication’s editor determines if the manuscript is free from any flaws or conflicts of interest, then selects qualified individuals in the author’s field of study to offer a fair review.
  1. Review Research and Statistics. The editor and the selected peers review the paper in its entirety, including any tables or figures attached, to ensure that the information not only follows the publication’s guidelines but is also well-organized, coherent, clearly defined and relevant. Often, this process is double-blind, which means the identity of the author and reviewers is unknown to avoid any bias. 
  1. It can take several weeks for a journal to decide to publish a paper, and most get sent back to the author with suggestions for revision. Feedback can include reorganizing the research structure or conducting additional experiments. Typically, the peers who reviewed the original document will view the revised manuscript.
  1. If the revisions are approved, the editor will schedule the paper for publication. If the author receives a rejection and believes a point was overlooked or misunderstood, they can appeal the decision. The time from submission to publication can be nearly a year.

The Benefits of Being Peer-Reviewed

MacuHealth’s motto is “Embrace the science,” and completing the peer-review process is a significant test of scientific integrity. There are over 30 peer-reviewed publications that support the effectiveness, bioavailability, and safety of MacuHealth’s formulations, which speaks to its dedication to science.  Despite the length of time it takes to be peer-reviewed, it’s vital for the safety and trust of its customers.

When researchers evaluate MacuHealth in their studies, and the results of them are peer-reviewed and ultimately published, it gives eye care professionals and patients confidence to trust its claims and realize the supplement’s health benefits. Its willingness to undergo this process is a vital part of what sets MacuHealth apart from the competition.