Peer review under review

Two interesting reports were mentioned on  DocuTicker today concerning the use of peer review in scientific publications:  Peer review in scientific publications by the U.K. House of Commons Science and Technology Committee; and Alternatives to peer review in research funding by the Rand Corporation. A detailed examination of the current peer-review system was conducted this year by the UK Science and Technology Committee,  examining its effectiveness, and  touching on issues of impact, publication ethics and research integrity.  Among its recommendations the report advocated for a development of standards and training for all editors and, particularly, for early-career researchers in peer review, acknowledging that the system depends on the integrity and competence of the people involved, and the degree of editorial oversight and the quality assurance of the peer review system itself.  The committee felt strongly that research data should be fully disclosed and, especially in the case of publicly funded research, made publicly available, to ensure reliability, testing, and reproducibility. Citing the importance of post-publication peer review and commentary, the use of new media and social networking tools was seen as an “enormous opportunity for experimentation” as a supplement to pre-publication peer-review. As well  post-publication review was recognized as an important vehicle in ensuring wide and expedient transmission of interesting research,  facilitation of rapid review by the global audience, and  in alerting the community to ”potential deficiencies and problems with published work”.

The Rand Europe Report, Alternatives to Peer Review in Research Project Funding  acknowledged that while peer review is considered the gold standard for reviewing research proposals, it is not always the best methodology for every research funding process.  The discussion of a set of established approaches that offer alternatives to traditional peer review are presented to inspire thinking among research funders to apply based on their situation and mission.