Peer Review Reimagined: New Review has some Suggestions

Exploring the revolutionary shift towards open preprint peer review, new review unveils its potential to make scientific publishing more transparent, efficient, and inclusive, urging the community to adopt these forward-looking practices

In an era where the pace of scientific discovery is ever-increasing, the traditional peer review process, a cornerstone of scholarly communication, is undergoing a significant transformation. A landmark study presented in PLOS Biology titled “Recommendations for accelerating open preprint peer review to improve the culture of science” sheds light on this evolution, advocating for a shift towards open preprint peer review.

Spearheaded by a coalition of researchers, including Michele Avissar-Whiting (Office of the President, Howard Hughes Medical Institute), Frédérique Belliard (TU Delft OPEN Publishing), Stefano M. Bertozzi (UC Berkeley School of Public Health), Amy Brand (The MIT Press), and numerous others from institutions all over the world, this review proposes a series of recommendations aimed at improving the culture of science through enhanced transparency, efficiency, and inclusivity.

Iratxe Puebla speaks to participants at the December 2022 workshop on Recognizing Preprint Peer Review. Jessica Polka

Make it open

The review’s key finding is the need to speed up the adoption of open preprint peer review. By facilitating immediate and accessible feedback on research findings, this approach aims to dismantle the barriers imposed by traditional peer review processes. It promises a more dynamic, inclusive, and collaborative scientific dialogue, foregrounding the value of immediate and constructive feedback over the protracted and often opaque processes that currently dominate academic publishing.

Central to the study’s recommendations is the call for a cultural shift in the scientific community’s approach to peer review. The authors advocate for a model that not only democratizes the dissemination of knowledge but also acknowledges and rewards the contribution of reviewers. Such a model leans heavily on technology and community engagement, empowering researchers to participate actively in a more open and constructive review process.

Pre-print success stories

The study also highlights the role of preprint platforms in facilitating this paradigm shift. By allowing researchers to share their findings before journal peer review, preprints serve as a catalyst for immediate scholarly discourse. This process not only accelerates the dissemination of new knowledge but also enriches the quality of research through broad and diverse feedback.

Moreover, the report delves into the practical challenges and potential solutions in implementing open preprint peer review. It addresses concerns about bias, the need for transparency in reviewer identities and conflicts of interest, and the importance of establishing norms for constructive feedback. The recommendations put forth by the authors are focused on the the collaborative effort and diverse perspectives that are the hallmarks of open pre-print review.

The implications of these recommendations are profound considering the breadth of the authors, signaling a transformative shift towards a more open, equitable, and transparent research ecosystem. By embracing open preprint peer review, the scientific community stands to enhance the rigor, reach, and reliability of scholarly communication. This move not only aligns with the principles of open science but also promises to accelerate the pace of discovery and innovation.

The article “Recommendations for accelerating open preprint peer review to improve the culture of science” is freely available to read in PLOS Biology.

Staff Writer

Our in-house science writing team has prepared this content specifically for Lab Horizons

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