What is the ultimate goal of peer review and how can we decide/quantify when it has reached its goal?

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    Is scientific peer review a process with a definite goal that can be terminated at some point in time? When exactly does the process end? What other options can we think of?

  • #2465 Score: 0

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    The goal of peer review is to ensure that the research is of minimum acceptable quality. This is similar to branding of a product. Although generic products are cheaper, one willingly pays higher price for a branded product because one is assured of a minimum expected quality. Very reputed brands can charge exorbitant price because the minimum expected quality in their case is very high. In the case of journals, the editorial board or the chief editor takes the responsibility of quality control. The quality standard depends upon the reputation of the journal and therefore the reputed journals have high acceptability. Irrespective of the reputation, almost all the journals adopt a short process – just a few reviews. The reason is: the process of creation of knowledge is not going to stop with the paper. If the philosophy or the idea or the methodology or anything else appears to be wrong or inappropriate or weak to some researchers then then they are free to criticize it after publication. In fact this gives them the opportunity to publish another paper! Making the review process endless will frustrate the author more than the existing blind peer review system. In the present system the author at least comes to know within a reasonable period whether her/his paper has been accepted or not. If not, she/he approaches a lesser reputed journal. If the goal of Open Scholar is to help researchers, which it proclaims, then the review has to be time bound. Since the goal of peer review is to ensure minimum quality and weed out the bogus research, the process should continue until a certain minimum number of reviews have been received, say three reviews. Since Open Scholar believes in an open system, the review process should give all the potential reviewers opportunity to participate within a fixed but adequate time period, say three months. So the review system may adopt criteria like three reviews or three months whichever is earlier. The actual number of stipulated months or reviews can be set by Open Scholar, as it deems fit, and the same should be applicable for all. A question arises: should reviews received after the expiry date be rejected? My answer is yes, on the grounds of equity. The author should not suffer because a reviewer wants to take more time. Moreover, adequate time was available to all potential reviewers. The same logic necessitates allowing certain period of time for comments on reviews to be uploaded. If not, some ‘enemy’ might send an unfavourable review in the last moment knowing fully well that there would not be any time to challenge it. Regarding minimum number of reviews, the author has the responsibility to arrange the same. If the author cannot arrange, then it is fair to the author that the review process is kept open till that number is reached. The other option would be similar to what journals adopt. Open Scholars may keep a panel of reviewers and arrange the stipulated minimum number of reviews from them. In that case, any other reviews received should not be counted towards the minimum stipulated reviews. The goal of review would be achieved once these reviews are received. The review process should however be kept open until the stipulated time period is over. Ramakanta Mishra.

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