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Peer review: How about evaluating peer review?

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RE (Peer Review Evaluation) was formed to assist members of the scholarly publishing community who are committed to preserving an ethical, rigorous peer review process.

The Problem

Researchers and others have more information than ever to sort through, but less time to do it. The peer review process is increasingly under fire. Questions about trust abound. How do users determine what content to select?

Before an article is published, the usual assumption is that it has passed through a quality peer-review process. As a practical matter however, some journals claim to be peer-reviewed when in fact they are not, or their review process is weak.

A Solution

We offer tools and services that help to validate what level of peer review was conducted prior to the publication of scholarly works. PRE-val and related services, such as PRE-score, will let users know that material has been carefully vetted and what review steps have been completed. The goal of PRE is to help recognize those who work hard at quality peer review, to increase the level of trust and transparency around the process, and to help readers locate high-value science. More.

Hat tip: Retraction Watch

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6 Replies to “Peer review: How about evaluating peer review?

  1. 1
    Acartia_bogart says:

    The root cause of the problem is the publish or perish mentality. How many publication did people like Aristotle, Copernicus, Newton and –gasp– Darwin have? To be totally honest, I don’t know. But I am willing to bet that, relatively speaking, the number was low.

    The recent mentality is that if you can’t publish that paradigm shifting paper, you better publish thirty or forty others.

  2. 2
    Mapou says:

    There should be no such thing as peer review, period. The peer review system has always been an elitist mechanism used to exclude undesirables. Isaac Newton never had to submit to a peer review process in order to publish his work. Would his theories and ideas have been any better had they been approved by his peers before publishing? I seriously doubt it.

    The entire world is our peers. There is nothing wrong with self-publishing your work on the web or wherever. Artists do it all the time. If your stuff is any good, it will be accepted by others. If it sucks, it will be rejected and nothing will come of it. It’s simple, really. Why give your money to an elitist journal with a hidden agenda? Freedom should be the name of the game.

  3. 3
    Acartia_bogart says:

    Mapou, I have to respectfully disagree. At its best, it is intended to make sure that the paper can stand up to scrutiny, not exclude the publication of dissenting views. But I admit that it has devolved to a point where dissenting views, even well presented, may be excluded.

    What we have to do is return it ti what it used to be.

  4. 4
    Mapou says:

    bogart:

    But I admit that it has devolved to a point where dissenting views, even well presented, may be excluded.

    Nobody should have the authority to include or exclude anything for whatever reason. This is why I love the internet. Pure unadulterated freedom. If you want people to know about your work, post it on your blog. It’s protected against censorship because the web is too big for anybody to control anymore. Free speech is a beautiful thing. Peer review is fascism pure and simple.

  5. 5
    redwave says:

    Peer review is a very recent practice, possibly dating to 1969 and first organized conference in 1989. Prior to the second half of the twentieth century, there were approximately two professional activities resembling peer review (17th and 19th centuries). The primary impetus for peer review growth can be traced to funds allocation.

    The practice of peer review has not shown a particular kind of consistency defined by a rigorous assessment of scientific inquiry. Possibly, science has no real need for consistency? If the practitioners of science insist on rigorous assessment in their inquiries, would one expect a review’s primary purpose to be knowledge of physical phenomena, rooted in epistemic and empirical methods? And money, funding, a secondary purpose?

  6. 6
    mahuna says:

    Several of the commenters are confusing the subject. Anyone, including me, can write a book and publish it. That’s what Newton and Darwin did, and effectively what Aristotle and Socrates did. “Peer review” is about publishing a narrowly scoped paper in a specialized magazine intended to inform a community (Chemists, Physicists, Anthropologists, etc.) on new theories or discovery in that narrow field. If Socrates had to continuously justify his teaching position to some board that could not otherwise evaluate his work, Socrates would have published submitted his essays to some panel for professional comment.

    What has happened in the last 20 or 30 years is that the volume of new papers has exploded and the consequences of failing to get a paper published have become dire. At the same time, the quality of teaching has gone through the floor. My daughter is a Biology major and plans to teach. Her university considers the comfort of the tenured professors MUCH more important than the fact that students continuously complain that the professors cannot in fact impart knowledge.

    The corruption of the peer review system is simply one part of the collapse of the university system.

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