Unchanging Peer Review?

Academia.edu, which bills itself as a “Facebook for academics”, recently bought another privately held company called Plasmyd.  Evidently, the impetus for the purchase was to gain expertise in the application of digital and social networking to improve peer review.

There is no doubt that the current system of peer review is on the threshold of crisis.  The number of review requests seems to increase every year and  pressure to publish remains incessant.  The rewards of academic scholarship accrue to authors, not to reviewers, and as a consequence the current incentives create a plethora of manuscripts and dearth of reviewers.  Plasmyd seeks to make this process more efficient by identifying those reviewers with appropriate expertise more quickly and weighting the outcome of their reviews to a greater extent than others.

Recent accusations about lax quality standards at open access journals have drawn attention to the fact the publication ecosystem is changing rapidly, and that even venerated journals like Science magazine are feeling the need to change.  I can think of ways that the Plasmyd approach might not result  in the improvements they are aiming for.

You can read about it for yourself by following the article below.

“Technology has changed some aspects of science tremendously. We have deep space telescopes that produce terabytes of data every day. We have tools to create synthetic living cells. However, the system of peer review – the mechanism by which scientific results are vetted – hasn’t materially changed since the 1600s when journal publishing was invented.”

Read the article here.


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