For Peer Review Week, Rachel Burley, APS Chief Publications Officer, reflects on the future of one of science’s most vital processes.
The scholarly publishing industry is shifting at breakneck speed. Emerging technologies, like artificial intelligence, are upending academia and industry. Scientists are producing more papers than ever before.
Peer review is venerable; it has played a central role in conducting quality research and ensuring the integrity of the academic record for around a century. However the scholarly publishing landscape has been radically changing, and our needs for the system have abruptly changed. We had a good demonstration of this during the COVID-19 pandemic. A reasonable question is whether peer review is still fit for purpose. This interesting piece, which the APS published in September 2023, looks at the issues and ponders how we need peer review to evolve to match the times.
“Peer review has been around for many years,” Burley says. “What it’s all about, and why we do it, hasn’t really changed. It’s always been about ensuring the quality, validity, and reliability of research articles before they’re published.”
From Sept. 25 to 29, APS and myriad institutions and researchers are participating in Peer Review Week, a global event celebrating peer review’s value to the scientific enterprise — and debating its future.
Today, scientists face a strong pressure to “publish or perish,” and the amount of published research has grown enormously over the last few decades. Why? How are these changes affecting peer reviewers?
The peer review crisis is worse in some disciplines than in others, but the mushrooming of research output you described is behind it. In my mind, this started when the mega-journals arrived in the early 2000s. Those publications moved away from selectivity and novelty. They weren’t necessarily asking reviewers to look for something new and different; they were saying, “If it’s technically sound, we’ll publish it.”