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]