Challenges of peer review

Need for review
The peer review process arose from a need to sift through research findings in a number of formats and choose which of them arose from the most reliable, original, and high caliber research.  In this way readers are assured that published findings represent the best understanding of the issue at that moment in time.  While there is consensus that review by peers is an important part of the scholarly research process, there is much debate about how it could be improved. 

Questions about the current process
A large number of issues are under debate concerning the ethics and limitations of the review process, and a few of them are explored in the links listed below.  They include abuse of the system as evidenced by some academic scandals, limitations due to the relatively small number of individuals completing the review, gender bias when reviewing proposals or manuscripts, and the long time from submission to publication, creating a situation in which published findings are dated.  As new faculty members become very familiar with the current peer review process and the various ways it plays out in different publication and presentation venues, while keeping abreast of the debates about its challenges, limitations and biases.  Accomplished faculty members strategically work within the peer review process by knowing it well, getting involved in it early in their careers, and following guidelines closely as they engage with integrity in their scholarly research activities.

Debate about open review
Advances in technology have created an environment in which some in the academy are calling for a more open review process that involves placing work onto a website on the internet and encouraging large numbers of scholars to review the work in an open forum of ideas.  The challenges and promise of that process is explored in several links below.

Failure and Abuse in Peer Review

An Academic Scandal: The Importance of Peer Review
Mauser, G. (2002). Faculty of Business Administration, Simon Frasier University
In this paper the importance of peer review is discussed, including an example of its failure.

Peer Review of Research: Current Issues, Best Practices and a Case of Abuse
Wright, D., Consultant to Office of Research Integrity (ORI), Michigan State University
This powerpoint reviews some of the issues related to peer review, and asserts the need to reform the process.

Limitations of Peer Review

Is Peer Review Broken?
Salisbury, M. (November, 2009). Genome Web Magazine
This article asserts that the peer review process is unscientific, since a handful of people review someone’s work.  Many scientists dislike the current system due to the time it takes and the perceived capriciousness of some review decisions.

Gender Issues in Peer Review

Gender Differences in Grant Peer Review: A Meta-Analysis
Bommann, L., Mutz, R. & Daniel, H. (July, 2007). Evaluation Office, University of Zurich, Switzerland, Journal of Informetrics,
Vol. 1, Iss. 3, p. 226-238
This article asserts that a robust gender difference exists in grant award procedures, amounting to about 7% greater odds that men applicants will receive awards over women.

Challenges of the Time Lag to Publication

Journal Editing: Managing the Peer Review Process for Timely Publication of Articles
Clark, A., Jackson, J.S. & Newsom, R. (September, 2000). Publishing Research Quarterly, Vol. 16, No. 3,
Springer New York
This article makes four recommendations for re-engineering the process used for review of journal articles to solve the problem of long peer review and delay of article publication.

Considering Open Peer Review

Academic Authors Favor Peer Review Over Open Access
Incisive Media (2005). Information World Review
A new survey from the center for Information Behavior and the Evaluation of Research (CIBER) based at University College, London, indicates that 96.2% of academics support the existing system of peer review.

Peer Review Steps out of the Shadows
Cartlidge, E., News Editor, (January, 2007). The future of physics publishing: Open Peer Review, Physics World
In this article the limitations of traditional peer review are considered, and the possibility of an “open peer review” is explored.

Blogging and Peer Review
Young, J. (January, 2009).  Indian University graduate student, founder of Progressive Historians Blog
In this blog entry the question of how blog comments are different than peer review is explored.

‘Facebook of Science’ Seeks to Reshape Peer Review
Macilwain, C. (January, 2011). The Chronicle of Higher Education
In this article Macilwain argues for open access and open peer review for research papers.  Arguments for and against this notion are considered, and Macilwain’s bio is discussed.

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