History of peer review

Origin of the peer review process
Most often authors date the advent of what we now call editorial peer review to the 1752 Royal Society of London’s development of a “Committee on Papers” to oversee the review of text for publication in the journal Philosophical Transactions. Others insist the Royal Society of Edinburgh had a similar system in place as early as 1731. Peer review predates the invention of the scholarly journal.  Early scientists circulated letters among their peers or read papers in society meetings to report the results of their investigations in hopes of response.  Initially peer review was designed to assist editors in selection of manuscripts, rather than to authenticate findings, and the responsibility for integrity relied on the author.  The origin of the process is from state censorship as developed through practices of state supported academies, as well as an attempt to augment the authority of a journal’s editor.  It was not until the middle of the 20th century that medical journals used outside reviewers to vet manuscripts.  This long history makes it difficult to imagine scholarship without the process. (Fitzpatrick)

Perspectives on the History of Peer Review

The History of the Peer Review Process
Spier, R. (August, 2002). Trends in Biotechnology, Vol. 20, Iss. 8
The peer review process is a turf battle with the ultimate prize of knowledge, science or doctrine being published.  On one side we have the writers, on the other the editors and critics. But it was not always so.  This article provides a history of the peer review process as it has evolved from Hippocrates to Internet publishing. 

The History of Peer Review
Fitzpatrick, K. (2009). Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy, NYU Press: New York University, as excerpted on Mediacommonspress
This excerpt explores several assumptions about the benefits of peer review, and asserts that its history is different than we might assume.

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