By Chris Pickett
Journal peer review is a critical part of vetting the integrity of the literature, and the research community should do more to value this exercise. Biomedical research is in a period of hypercompetition, and the pressures of hypercompetition force scientists to focus on metrics that define success in the current environment—funding, publications and jobs. But it also means that other activities that are critical for research but indirectly linked to success in this environment, like peer review, mentoring and teaching, take a back seat.
Incentives must be developed that ensure that quality journal peer review is valued even in a hypercompetitive environment. Some journals do offer a benefit for serving as a reviewer, but the need to publish in the most visible, highest quality journal possible in this hypercompetitive environment often outweighs the benefits provided by a journal for serving as a reviewer. Therefore, the incentives should not come from journals. Continue reading
by Stephen Curry, Professor of Structural Biology, Imperial College (@Stephen_Curry)
As the song goes – and I have in mind the Beatles’ 1963 cover version of Money (that’s all I want) – “the best things in life are free.” But is peer review one of them? The freely given service that many scientists provide as validation and quality control of research papers submitted for publication has its critics. Richard Smith, who served as the editor of the British Medical Journal from 1991 to 2004, considered peer review to be “ineffective, largely a lottery, anti-innovatory, slow, expensive, wasteful of scientific time, inefficient, easily abused, prone to bias, unable to detect fraud and irrelevant.” Although my own experience, and that of many colleagues, is that peer review mostly provides valuable clarification and polishing of submitted manuscripts, Smith is worth listening to because there are growing concerns about the inability of peer review to provide a sufficient test of the integrity of the scientific record. That trend should worry everyone involved in scholarly publication. Continue reading