Peer review for publishing is like the “inspected by #7” sticker on your t-shirt. It provides some assurance that someone else has checked this for accuracy and legitimacy. However, peer review is a time-consuming and often, thankless job.  This interesting subject came to our attention via Spectrum in their article, “Data analysis, open access could improve peer-review process.”

Academics spend around 70 million hours every year evaluating one another’s manuscripts on the behalf of scholarly journals. Some commit that amount of time as a way to keep abreast of developments in their field, but most simply see it as a duty to the discipline – an unpaid and unrecognized duty. Just imagine academic publishing without peer review.

The increased popularity of sites that allow researchers to either share entire referee reports or simply list the journals for which they’ve carried out a review indicates that academics are increasingly placing value on the work of peer review. The open peer-review model is gathering some support. Some academic journals have been posting referee reports online for years and a recent survey of more than 3,000 researchers found that the majority of respondents thought open reviewing should be mainstream practice, but only if the reviewers remained anonymous.

Melody K. Smith

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