SocArXiv Papers | Innovating peer review, reconfiguring scholarly communication: An analytical overview of ongoing peer review innovation activities
peter.suber's bookmarks 2022-01-27
We aim to provide an analytical overview of current innovations in peer review and their potential impacts on scholarly communication.
We created a survey that was disseminated among publishers, academic journal editors, and other organizations in the scholarly communication ecosystem, resulting in a dataset of 95 self-defined innovations. We ordered the material using a taxonomy that compares innovation projects according to five dimensions. For example, what is the object of review? How are reviewers recruited, and does the innovation entail specific review foci?
Peer review innovations partly pull in mutually opposed directions. Several initiatives aim to make peer review more efficient and less costly, while other initiatives aim to promote its rigor, which is likely to increase costs; innovations based on a singular notion of “good scientific practice” are at odds with more pluralistic understandings of scientific quality; and the idea of transparency in peer review is the antithesis to the notion that objectivity requires anonymization. These fault lines suggest a need for better coordination.
This paper presents original data that were analyzed using a novel, inductively developed, taxonomy. Contrary to earlier research, we do not attempt to gauge the extent to which peer review innovations increase the “reliability” or “quality” of reviews (as defined according to often implicit normative criteria), nor are we trying to measure the uptake of innovations in the routines of academic journals. Instead, we focus on peer review innovation activities as a distinct object of analysis.