A New Way to Peer Review

BioMed Central discusses a new way to peer review, the community peer-review initiative Peerage of Science. There is some relation to the editorial I wrote for Society and Space a few years back on “The Exchange Economy of Peer Review” (open access). Thanks to Noel Castree for sending this to me.

Much has been made recently of the imperfections of the traditional peer-review process as a way to evaluate scientific knowledge. Despite quibbles about process, the current system still represents the gold standard which—to paraphrase Winston Churchill on democracy—might be said to be the worst form of scientific assessment, except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.

A key problem for journals and journal editors is balancing efficiency, rigour and fairness. All three are crucial, and interwoven with each other to affect the scientist as author, editor, reviewer and reader.

To address this, a little under year ago a new initiative called Peerage of Science was launched aiming to tackle some of these underlying issues and to reward reviewers in the process.

The basic idea behind the initiative lies in the creation of a “community of peers”, each signed up to submit and review manuscripts in a transparent format. Any scientist who has a publication record is free to join the community, and those without can only become members if their manuscript is favourably reviewed. Manuscripts are submitted anonymously to a central pool, and any peer can then choose to review it. Submitting a manuscript creates a “peer review debt” of -2 reviews, which is shared among all authors. Writing a review increases this personal balance by +1, with subsequent submissions only being possible if the balance is positive– the aim being to ensure reciprocal participation in the review process. [continues]

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4 Responses to A New Way to Peer Review

  1. troyrhoades says:

    Reblogged this on Drops of Experience and commented:
    Stuart Elden points to BioMed Central’s new way to peer review.

  2. troyrhoades says:

    Reblogged this on Drops of Experience and commented:
    Stuart Elden points to BioMed Central’s new way to peer review.

  3. Lisa Pautler says:

    We’re doing something similar at Rubriq, but with several key differences. We’re paying reviewers directly and authors pay for independent reviews within a standardized scorecard that can be used anywhere they want to publish. We’re also adding a journal recommendation step to help authors find the highest-impact fit based on their topic and overall quality. I’d love to get your feedback on our concept – visit us at http://www.rubriq.com.

    • stuartelden says:

      Thanks Lisa. Interesting, and I definitely think alternatives to the current modern are needed. I’m not sure about one review working for more than one outlet though. Perhaps that would work in the sciences – but one of the key things we want to know from reviewers is about the fit of the paper to a specific journal, with required revisions to make it appropriate for that. As a reviewer for a wide range of different journals, that’s also something that is key to writing reviews. As editors we screen out a lot of papers that are wrong for the journal before review, but it’s still a crucial element in the process. But there are standard things that are shared between journals, so perhaps a hybrid would be viable. I am also unsure that authors should pay, or reviewers be paid – this is part of the exchange economy of peer review that is, I think, a good thing and one I’d be sorry to see lost.

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