Diverse Approaches to Peer Review

Portrait of Albert Einstein in a museum. Source:

Peer Review Week, Sep 10-15, 2018

Peer Review Week is a global event celebrating the role of peer review in maintaining scientific quality. This year marks the event’s fourth anniversary of bringing together researchers, institutions, and organizations committed to the message that good peer review is crucial to scholarly communications. This year Peer Review Week on the topic of diversity aims:

  • To emphasize the central role peer review plays in scholarly communication
  • To showcase the work of editors and reviewers
  • To share research and advance best practices
  • To highlight the latest innovation and applications.

Although peer review itself is not as young as the week-long event organized in its celebration, it is still a relatively new invention. Albert Einstein published his original papers in non-peer-reviewed German journals through 1933, most famously in the Annalen der Physik. Max Planck, one of the journal’s editors of the time, described his editorial philosophy as:

To shun much more the reproach of having suppressed strange opinions than that of having been too gentle in evaluating them.

After moving to the US, Einstein was so shocked that his paper submitted to the Physical Review in 1936 was met with negative criticism that he decided not to publish with them at all. Ironically, the paper in question hypothesized that gravitational waves do not exist. In retrospect, peer review saved Einstein the controversy and the embarrassment that would have ensued if he had published his original article. Continue reading “Diverse Approaches to Peer Review”