The long-awaited Peer Review Week has just started, and we could not be more excited! This year’s edition is all about quality in peer review. So, what does quality peer review look like and why is it important?
Peer review is key to facilitating the growth of scientific knowledge. It allows the community to pool its resources, provide guidance and maintain a common standard of research. It is in everybody’s interest to ensure its highest quality, and the more is invested into this process, the higher the returns. However, the lack of transparency, accountability, and recognition for reviewers creates an unsustainable model of peer review and hampers realizing its full potential.
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At ScienceOpen, we have over 28 million article records all available for public, post-publication peer review (PPPR), 3 million of which are full-text Open Access. This functionality is a response to increasing calls for continuous moderation of the published research literature, a consistent questioning of the functionality of the traditional peer review model (some examples in this post), and an increasing recognition that scientific discourse does not stop at the point of publication for any research article.
In spite of this increasing demand, the uptake of PPPR across different platforms seems to be relatively low overall. So what are some of the main reasons why researchers might feel less motivated to do PPPR, and is there anything we can do to increase its usage and adoption as part of a more open research culture?
What even is ‘post-publication’ peer review?
There is a general mentality among researchers that once research has been published, it has already ‘passed’ peer review, so why should it need to be peer reviewed again?
For Peer Review Week 2016, we set a simple competition for you all, to publicly peer review one of 25 million research articles on our platform. This fitted perfectly with the theme this year of ‘Recognising Review’, as every single peer review conducted with us is published openly and creditable through the application of a CC BY license, which enables the unrestricted sharing and re-use of the reviews providing that attribution is given.
We’re happy to announce that Lauren Collister was the winner this year, and a t-shirt is on your way!
There are many many amazing blogs and bloggers out there that provide critical comments, context, and feedback on the ‘formally published’ research literature. One problem with these though is that they are often divorced from the papers themselves, perhaps lost on obscure websites, or not hitting the right target audience. This seems like an awful waste, don’t you think?
While some great initiatives such as The Winnower will now publish blog posts openly, these still are not connected to the papers that they are based on, if they are indeed written about particular papers. But what do researchers think about blogging as a form of scholarly communication in the form of post-publication peer review?
So as with most of my ponderings, I took to Twitter to get some feedback with a little poll. I actually framed the question a little ambiguously, but this shouldn’t sufficiently skew the data in any direction (I hope).
Do you consider blogging to be a form of post-publication peer review?
What is interesting to me is that 41% of people who answered, who undoubtedly did not constitute just a researcher sample, do not consider blogging to ‘count’ as peer review. I would really love to know why this is the case for some people. Perhaps they haven’t seen good examples, or perhaps just because it’s not formalised in any way, and quite disassociated from the research literature.
It’s not too hard to see that the practices of and attitudes towards ‘open science’ are evolving amidst an ongoing examination about what the modern scholarly system should look like. While we might be more familiar with the ongoing debate about how to best implement open access to research articles and to the data behind publications, discussions regarding the structure, management, and process of peer review are perhaps more nuanced, but arguably of equal or greater significance.
Peer review is of enormous importance for managing the content of the published scientific record and the careers of the scientists who produce it. It is perceived as the golden standard of scholarly publishing, and for many determines whether or not research can be viewed as scientifically valid. Accordingly, peer review is a vital component at the core of the process of research communication, with repercussions for the very structure of academia which largely operates through a publication-based reward and incentive system.