I’ve spent about six hours over the last two days reviewing two scientific papers, and the experience has made me wonder if it is time for peer reviewers to rise up in rebellion—rather as walkers made a mass trespass of Kinder Scout in 1932. As I write this, I remember one of Britain’s leading scientists saying to me: “I never peer review. Why would I waste my time reviewing crummy research when I can be doing my own research? What’s more, I’m funded to do research and am rewarded for it. Nobody either funds me to review or rewards me for doing it.”
Richard’s post touches on wider issues:
- The need to reform the academic publishing industry; and
- The need to rethink the distorting impact of publication metrics on academia.
This is of course in addition to tackling the difficult issue of the unpaid contribution peer reviewers make to publications. We have included links to a lot of related items.
Although I took the reviews seriously and spent six hours doing them, I can’t feel that I added much if any value. Both papers were clearly written and well-evidenced. They could have been published immediately, and no harm would have been done. Instead, much time and bureaucracy has come before publication. (I accept that there are papers that would be better not published, but I suggest that the editors know which they are and that they are usually published anyway if the authors persist: you can get anything published if you keep going, as a series of nonsense papers have shown.)