"Open Peer Review"
"Simple Blind Peer Review"
"Simple Blind Peer Review"
How does Science progess (or stagnate!)? Scientist researchers in Academic laboratories perform experimentations with the aim to discover new knowledges. This is their job!
How do Scientists decide if a finding is enough new and orginal to be considered as a new knowledge? Scientists have to write an article about their findings and discovery to make their findings known by other scientists. The article usually presents a defined structure, for example you can see one here. To make known their work, they have to choose a Scientific Journal and submit their article for publication. When the article is published, it is available, in theory, for all scientists in the world.
For scientists, publications are very important. Having published articles in Scientific Journals validates a scientist as a scientist. And the prestige of the Scientific Journal in which articles are published is also a very important point for career progression in Academia.
A famous saying in Academia: "Publish or Perish!"
There is numerous Scientific Journals, those focusing only on one subject (example Cancer research or Alzhiemer research), those being generalist, those being more for physician community, and those more for scientist community ... ect. The article is addressed to the Editor of the Journal. Here is the process:
- The Editor rejects the article because it is not enough in the focus of the journal, or for 1000 other reasons. Scientists should find another Journal to apply.
- The Editor accepts the submission. The trouble starts now!
The Editor will select some "expert" scientists working in the field of the article and ask them to review it. The number of people reviewing an article is usually 3 to 5. These reviewers are researchers who are not linked to the laboratory applying for the publication. The reviewers are "independent" and have to judge the article "objectively"! The second point is that the team who apply for a publication will never know the names of the reviewers. But the reviewers know the name of the scientists applying for a publication.
This system is called "Simple Blind Peer Review" (or also called Blind review or Peer review):
- Simple Blind, because only one side (reviewers) knows the identity of the other side
- Peer means by people who are expert in the scientific field to be judged
Reviewers can reject the article or accept to continue the review process under conditions. They can ask for slight modifications, such as modifications of the text, or they can ask for supplemental experiments with the goal to strengthen the conclusions of the article.
Scientists come back to the lab and perform asked modifications and experiments.
Reviewers can then definitively accept or reject the article. If they accept, the article will be published in the Scientific Journal and will be available for all scientists .... in theory!
This evaluation process, Simple Blind Review, causes several ethical problems and is continuously subjected to the criticism of scientists:
- The process is time consuming: it typically takes several months or even several years in some fields for a submitted paper to appear in print.
But the problem of being too slow is not the major problem of the Simple Blind Review!
"We know that the system of peer review is biased, unjust, unaccountable, incomplete, easily fixed, often insulting, usually ignorant, occasionally foolish, and frequently wrong." Richard Horton, editor of the prestigious medical journal The Lancet.
The interposition of editors and reviewers between authors and readers always raises the possibility that the intermediators may serve as gatekeepers. Some sociologists of science argue that peer review makes the ability to publish susceptible to control by elites and to personal jealousy and personal interests. The peer review process may suppress dissent discovery and findings against "mainstream" theories. Reviewers tend to be especially critical of conclusions that contradict their own views and theory, and lenient towards those that accord with them. At the same time, established scientists are more likely than less established ones to be sought out as referees, particularly by high-prestige journals or publishers. As a result, it has been argued, ideas that harmonize with the established experts are more likely to see print and to appear in prestigious journals than are iconoclastic or revolutionary ones. Adapted from Wikipedia
Another ethical problem is that mainly all Scientific Journals ask money to scientists to submit their work and extra-money to publish the article. These entry fees can be quite high and are unfair. Indeed, reviewers work for free, and with the internet we do not need anymore to read articles in paper format, and every researcher reads articles online. In addition, Scientific Journals ask also money to Universities, Research Institutions and anyone wishing to access to the full content of their journals, the online version! Subscriptions to Scientific Journals are amazingly high and totally unjustified! Scientific researches done by Academia are mainly funded by public grants, therefore the results of research are a Public Good! And the access to these results should not be blocked by "Journals" which are private companies! (read more at this link)
More than 5,700 researchers have joined a boycott of Elsevier, a leading publisher of science journals:
Join the revolution! http://thecostofknowledge.com/
Before the popularization and democratization of the internet, there was no solution or alternative to the Simple Blind Reviewing process, and the "Mafia of Scientific Journals"! But now, with the power of internet a new way of reviewing science discoveries has emerged, it is called Open Peer Review (+ Open Access) !
"Open Peer Review (+ Open-Access)"
Hereafter, I would like to present the only one Online Biomedical Journal based on the Open Peer Review process: WebmedCentral
Webmed has been founded in 2011 in UK by a group of medical and management professionals with no affiliation to any major biomedical publishing group.
The process is very simple, scientists can submit their articles (or other scientific communications) by up-loading their files. The article is published under 48h, and then the review process will start by Peers. The review process is transparent and fair.
WebMedCentral is a generalist online journal in biology and medical sciences. I bet that Online Scientific Journals based on Open Peer Reviewing Process will rapidly appear for formal sciences, physical sciences and chemistry, and even for human and social sciences!