Trust is the theme of this year’s Peer Review Week, and we can’t think of anything more important or timely. Peer review runs on trust. Trust is both a noun and a verb; both are central to how knowledge develops and is shared through research. And yet trust seems in short supply in our fractured and fraying world. Trust in institutions and processes was always a privilege, and people for whom processes and institutions have never worked well — or even worked at all — may never have trusted either of them. As we learn in more detail about how science has reflected the same biases as society, including racism and sexism (a prominent example is the history of Henrietta Lacks and HELA cells), is it any wonder that trust is in short supply? But there are also new and potent forces for disinformation, including social media platforms and politicized traditional media to spread it. Anti-science movements, whether anti-vaccination or anti-mask wearing, come from a different but equally long history of mistrust.
A Scholarly Kitchen piece reflecting on the value and importance of trust in scholarly publications. An interesting and timely read.
It is critical to both research and dissemination that review is trusted. The classic peer review process, of a piece of research for publication, involves the identification of appropriate reviewers, ethical review of the research by the reviewers, and editorial oversight of the reviewers’ selection and conclusions. But trust is baked into a much larger set of review practices, from grant funding to awards and more. We need to have confidence that these practices and processes, while never a certain guarantee, will both minimize risks and add quality.