Peer review: open to enquiry

The House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology has announced an equiry into peer review.

This seems timely: I’m more and more hearing people wondering if peer review as we know (and love?) it is threatened/challenged/becoming redundant in the web 2.0 environment. Though I think this enquiry is more probably a response to concerns that the current system may be insufficiently robust: the second of the review’s terms of reference mentions “strengthening” peer review.

Would we like it “strengthened”, if this means giving reviewers more power and responsibility? Or is there a case for making it more open – even for publishing research without traditional peer review and letting the academic community give its verdict on the value and significance of the work? (There’s an article on this by Axel Boldt in Journal of Scholarly Publishing, 2011, 42/2, 238-242, DOI10.3138/jsp.42.2.238 – but unfortunately it’s not open access … Also a provocative blog by Paul Fyfe at Florida State University)

Such a significant change in the way scholarly communications are validated won’t happen overnight. But is it a desirable development?

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