Last year at this time we asked the Chefs: What is the future of peer review?
In anticipation of the third annual Peer Review Week, we’ve asked the Chefs: Should peer review change?
Kent Anderson: I don’t think peer review is one thing. It is very different in every case it’s implemented, and is always changing. The caricature of peer review in our industry is both sad and funny — it’s as if everyone knows what it is, and we have many people speaking about it as if it is one unitary process that everyone has standardized. It’s almost as if, because we can measure inputs and outputs, some of us have inferred that everything that goes on in between is the same. This belief typically comes from people who have never really been close to multiple peer review processes. When you look more closely, you realize that nothing happens the same way almost ever, and certainly not usually between journals in different fields. In fact, I have never seen a peer review process that is the same for any two journals, and it’s even hard to find a process that is the same for any two papers, given the differences in reviewers, editors, content, conflicts, timeframes, and so forth. There is often a messy bit that counting steps and mapping flows won’t capture, as well. So, given that there is no single thing called “peer review” that anyone can describe with anything approaching verisimilitude to reality, yes, it should and does and will always change.