It’s hard to believe that this year Peer Review Week (PRW) will celebrate its fifth anniversary. Five years ago, it was literally not even a twinkle in anyone’s eye! So, as we prepare for #PeerRevWk19 (September 16-20), I thought Scholarly Kitchen readers might enjoy a look back at the history of this annual celebration of the essential role that peer review plays in maintaining scientific and scholarly quality.
Year One (September 28 – October 2, 2015)
The first ever Peer Review Week was really a piece of last-minute serendipity. It grew out of a conversation in August, 2015 between ORCID, which I had recently joined as Director of Communications, and AAAS*. At ORCID, we were about to launch the beta version of our peer review functionality, enabling organizations to recognize peer review activities by adding them to ORCID records, while AAAS — an ORCID member — had recently acquired PRE (Peer Review Evaluation). So we were brainstorming ways we could work together, and came up with the idea of a week of posts celebrating peer review on the ORCID blog. But then we thought, why stop there!? So we invited a handful of other organizations that we knew were especially interested in the topic to join the celebrations — ScienceOpen, Sense About Science (whose annual lecture that year inspired the dates for Peer Review Week), and Wiley (my former company). We had all of six weeks or so to organize ourselves, so it was a case of all hands on deck, but amazingly we did (just about!) pull it off (see Welcome to Peer Review Week). Much more importantly, it started a wider conversation about the need to regularly celebrate the importance of peer review to scholarly communications, with numerous other organizations expressing interest in participating.
Year Two (September 19 – 26, 2016)
Thankfully, planning for Peer Review Week 2016 started a lot earlier and involved over 20 organizations, including the original founders. The planning committee decided to choose a theme for each year’s celebrations, starting with “Recognizing Peer Review” for 2016. One of our goals was to recognize peer review in all its many forms, from grant application through promotion and tenure, to conference abstracts, publications, and more. As part of that effort, we started our now annual week of Peer Review Week posts here on the Kitchen, including an interview with Maryanne Martone of Hypothes.is about the importance of annotations as a form of review, and a conversation between Chefs Alison Mudditt and Karin Wulf, as well as Mary Francis of University of Michigan Press, about peer review in the humanities and social sciences. And we created our own video of interviews with people from a range of organizations about how and why their organizations recognize review.