Thursday, October 13, 2016

The role of peer review in today's science

It’s fun to discuss scientific papers, but it’s also interesting to think about how the scientific publication works. Peer review remains one of the most important steps ensuring the quality of science since it’s inception in the mid 1600s. The scientific landscape today however, is vastly different, as the number of both scientists and scientific articles are quickly expanding.  Is the peer review process lagging behind? What can be improved? We’re looking forward to hear your opinions. Fika will of course be provided.

-Alexander and Qinyang

Abstract:  Peer review is pivotal to science and academia, as it represents a widely accepted strategy for ensuring quality control in scientific research. Yet, the peer-review system is poorly adapted to recent changes in the discipline and current societal needs. We provide historical context for the cultural lag that governs peer review that has eventually led to the system’s current structural weaknesses (voluntary review, unstandardized review criteria, decentralized process). We argue that some current attempts to upgrade or otherwise modify the peer-review system are merely sticking-plaster solutions to these fundamental flaws, and therefore are unlikely to resolve them in the long term. We claim that for peer review to be relevant, effective, and contemporary with today’s publishing demands across scientific disciplines, its main components need to be redesigned. We propose directional changes that are likely to improve the quality, rigour, and timeliness of peer review, and thereby ensure that this critical process serves the community it was created for. 

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