Rethinking Peer Review

6 thoughts on “Rethinking Peer Review”

  1. Another example for those considering this theme are projects like the edited volume _Writing History in the Digital Age_. I just saw notice that today it passed the 500th comment point.

    While we tend to think of these efforts as new and technology dependent, they built on a older tradition of circulating pre-prints and working papers in route to the publication of a stable version.

    1. LOL. I don’t think anyone could accuse Michael of stiffling debate, when I believe he has gone to great efforts to invite dialogue.

      At one point I played with comments along the following lines:
      The current system (blinded prepublication review) provides three things: 1) The process selects the best ideas; 2) it provides feedback to authors; and 3) it confers a stamp of approval.

      A digital-only publication can be on a less-restricted page diet –although online publishing does not eliminate costs ( and so an online only title may not require peer-review for the purposes of content selection.

      Almost all relevant authors receive feedback from blind peer review, whether they go on to publish their revised papers in that journal or another. The Nature experiment suggests that openness _may_ cut both ways and we should all be aware that such a system may yield comments at high- and low-quality extremes, but may not provide all authors with constructive guidance that benefits many in the current system.

      If open peer review stifles feedback and a post-publication review journal by definition is less selective, publication in that journal will not legitimize scholarship to the dons of academe.

      Because I hear that the most important scholarly needs of our authors are feedback and academic jobs and promotion, any changes to our peer review system should focus above all on those two requirements. Possibly a model like the EGU’s (see: could accelerate publication times, increase debate with discussion papers, and ultimately select the best and thus still help credential our authors within the current academic system of evaluation.

  2. Maybe editorial boards need to select papers that are most likely to get published. Then the editorial boards would need to heavily advertise the open comment period. It is very important that everyone is allowed to view the papers on the open web and not have to register using their name nor email address. It is very important that people would be able to leave comments anonymously if they wish.

    There could be a traditional peer-review process alongside a digital review process.

    Previously attempts at this open review system did not work at Nature, because there were too many papers. Apparently there were literally hundreds of papers and the Nature journal did not do a very good job at advertising. From what I heard, users had to register and the journal used a platform that was very difficult to operate.

    Papers for review also need be categorized so it is easy for professionals in certain fields to be able to look-up papers. There need to be opening and closing dates for comment periods. Most of all, the peer review system would need to be heavily advertised through traditional means such as Anthropology News, but also through social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc).

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