Week 11 – Peer Review

I appreciated reading Lovejoy et al.’s (2011) overview of the peer review process as it gave me a better sense of elements that need to be considered when establishing a high-quality peer review – including a summary of Do’s and Don’ts of the process.

Scholar David Shatz published work, “Peer review : a critical inquiry” (which can be found on the shelves of the Inforum) explores the challenges and biases in the peer review process. For example, he discusses how reviewers can be biased in favor of an author’s subject expertise, credentials and affiliated education institution (especially if it’s prestigious).

While I still believe that the objective of peer reviewing is to ensure quality in academic writing – it still has its share of controversy and biases. Much of the information and knowledge that is currently being created is collaborative shared, social and participatory which encourages diverse and alternative perspectives.  Therefore, I believe it would be valuable for scholarly works to incorporate a “open” or “public” review – one that allows the general public to provide feedback — along with the peer reviewed version.  It would allow for an iterative process when evaluating scholarly works and seek to challenge dominant ideologies embedded in academia.

– Frieda M.

Reference:

Lovejoy, T.I., et al. (2011). Reviewing manuscripts for peer-reviewed journals: A primer for novice and seasoned reviewers. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 42(1), 1-13.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Week 11 – Peer Review

  1. You bring up some very interesting ideas. Yes, this definitely seems like a process in which bias would be prominent, however, this can also be seen as a good thing. This could counteract an authors bias. Say for example and author wrote a paper on including homeless patrons in the library, but didn’t take into consideration the rights of other patrons (rights to safety, security, etc.), that may be imposed by promoting use of the library for the homeless. Another scholar could reveal the authors bias towards homeless patrons, and make them aware that they must take into consideration everyone else as well. This could make for a much better article.

    I see the flaws, but I also think there’s a plurality of positives!

    Victoria Grant

  2. Another thought:

    With regard to your comment on incorporating an open review, one that would allow the general public to make comments, Galey mentioned that in 2006, Nature tried this, however, it failed. This attempt at open review was NON-BINDING for editors. Then, in 2010, Shakespeare Quarterly tried again, and it was a success. This attempt was made to be BINDING for editors. Why do you think this is? It was taken more seriously?

    Victoria Grant

  3. I like the idea of an open research community where people can collaborate and share their ideas. However, I’m not certain how I feel about the peer review process being open to the general public, especially since that would necessitate that it is carried out on the Internet. The Internet provides a great deal of anonymity, at times too much. A person is able to commit fraud and pretend to be somebody else. Imagine if someone pretended to be a leading researcher on the topic and posted comments about another person’s article? It may sound a little extreme but a rival researcher could hypothetically stoop to that level and try to mislead people. Moreover, does the general public really have the knowledge and expertise to make insightful comments? Someone could be very sincere in his/her efforts to assist but nevertheless have wrong or inadequate knowledge of the subject. Finally, the author would be obliged to sort through all the comments, the bad, the good, and the ugly! Overall, I feel that the peer review process should be limited to individuals who are known to be knowledgeable about the subject.

  4. frieda187

    Thank you very much for your feedback; you both raise very important points. However, I think my initial thoughts pertaining to the peer review process have either been misinterpreted or reinterpreted (which may stem from the fact that I didn’t explain my thinking thoroughly enough)… When suggesting that there should be an “open” component to reviewing scholarly works it was not my intention to assert that it should replace the actual peer review proccess. I especially understand the need to be concerned and cautious about how this might be implemented because I wouldn’t want the ability to comment “openly” on someone’s research to invite degrading/demeaning/mean spirited “discussions” which sometimes appear on Youtube videos, Facebook or Twitter. I make this suggestion from observation that individuals who are selected to review may not be the only “expert” on the particular paper they’ve been invited to review. Depending on the subject there can be a variety of individuals (all over the world) who may even be able to add to the discussion by examining how an issue/topic may be interpreted in their culture/society.

    Depending on how the “potential” community to provide feedback is structured there are many ways to encourage thoughtful and critical discussions. For instance, our 1240 blog is a perfect example to engage in critical dialogue and ongoing reflections of scholarly works we have encountered throughout our studies (though I do recognize that our contribution is being graded).

    Frieda

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