Open Reviewing

in peer, blog, nature, science

Arecent blog post on Action Potential pointed me towards the neuroscience peer review consortium. Theyhave a description here about theconsortium and a list ofparticipating journals. I have no doubt that this is the future of peerreview. At the moment the peer review system is horribly inefficient forpapers that get rejected. Rejection from a journal can occur because a paperis crap, but often it happens for many other reasons, because the journalhas already met it's pagequota, the journal is publishing a set of special issues on another topic,the editors of the journal are interested in shifting the focus of thejournal, the topic of the paper is slightly away from the main interests ofthe editorial board, the paper is good, but just gets edged out by a set ofbetter papers that come in. The author resubmits, rewrites, reformats thepaper for another journal, the review process happens again, sometimes withthe same reviewers being approached again to re-review the paper. Thismultiple reviewing of the same paper is for the most part a waste of time.There are of course cases where it is good to have the option, but for themost part it wastes the time of communities who are highly trained and busytrying to do important and original work of their own.

I personally always felt that pool reviewing was the natural solution tothis problem, but I never thought I would see it happen owing to thecompeting nature of academic publishers. This attempt to work pool reviewingin one area is very exciting. The issues that need to be overcome includethe issue of private reviewer comments that the Action Potential blog pointsout, but also the questions of a set of editors of one journal being willingto take the rejected papers from another journal. One would like to say thatin a totally equally fair system all journals are equally important to thedevelopment of science, but that is not true. Some journals are just moreimportant for one reason or another. When two journals feel they are betterthan each other are they going to be willing to take the papers rejected bytheir competitors? I hope that the papers will stand up for themselves andthat this system will lead to a more efficient matching of papers to pagesin published journals.

If it works what next? One single format for submission? One passpeer-review with a peer-reviewed preprint publication guaranteed for allpapers? I don't know, but I'm interested in seeing what happens with this.

tags: science, peer-review, science2.0