Last week’s post by Alice Meadows showcased some of the impressive new technologies that are better enabling us to track the work done by researchers, in particular, work that has previously remained somewhat invisible. But even with these abilities in-hand, functional questions still remain about who would grant that credit and what form it would take.
The writer doesn’t mention that doing peer review properly is a way for a researcher to learn more about themselves too. Working as reviewers we have had to read additional papers, go back to the literature and see if we actually understood the topic properly, had to re-acquaint ourselves with some methods and statistical analyses. Peer review done properly is like doing exercise or practising scales on the piano. It makes you better at what you want to do yourself. It allows one to benchmark yourself against the field. While we don’t get paid or recognised for the peer reviews we do but we get so much from doing them.
So I’ll pose the question as we revisit my 2015 post about credit for peer review — are we any closer to realizing it?
Offering career credit to researchers for performing peer review seems like a no-brainer, right? Peer review is essential for our system of research, and study after study confirms that researchers consider it tremendously important. Funding agencies and journal publishers alike rely on researchers to provide rigorous review to aid in making decisions about who to fund and which papers to publish. On the surface it would seem to make sense to formalize this activity as a part of the career responsibilities of an academic researcher. But as one delves into the specifics of creating such a system, some major roadblocks arise.