Publish and be cited! Impact Factors, Open Access, and the plight of peer review

This approach week (19-25 September) is Peer Review Week 2016, every international initiative that celebrates the outline and often undervalued activity of literary peer review. Launched last year by Sense about Science, ORCID, ScienceOpen and Wiley, Peer Review Week follows in the vigil of two open letters from the of plato community on the issue of companion review recognition. The first was from seasonable career researchers in the UK to the Higher Education Funding Council in quest of England in July, and the next to the first from Australian academics to the Australian Research Council pair years later.

Now in its aid year, Peer Review Week is focusing without interrupti~ the issue of Peer Review avowal, its current coordinating committee including adscititious organisations such as AAAS, COPE, eLife, and the Royal Society and the Federation of European Microbiological Societies (FEMS). This point of concentration stems from the fact that space of time perceived as important, peer review is ~times regarded as a secondary activity to open declaration by decision makers across the Higher Education and funding sectors. This is something that David Colquhoun, Professor of Pharmacology at the UK’s University College London, firmly attributed to the ‘spread or perish’ culture imposed by “research funders and senior people in universities” more years ago.

It’s a survey echoed in the preliminary findings of individual of two new surveys on look closely review, the first released by FEMS as part of this week’s activities, what one. reveals that, at least among the global microbiology community, authors subject to peer review remark greater professional development benefits from the case than do the people carrying on the ~side the reviews. And what lies at the feeling of this – and is unencumbered from Colquhoun’s comments – is the influence of Eugene Garfield’s infamous newspaper “Impact Factor”. For in use it is not so much publications, as citations, that are held in of the like kind high regard. Indeed without citations, says Nature blog’s Richard van Noorden, a publication may be regarded because “practically useless”.

Figure 1. Perceived values in the knowledge ecosystem. Cath Cotton, et. alPerceived values in the cognition ecosystem. Cath Cotton, Laura Bowater, Richard Bowater. Image used through authors’ permission.

This view that be must be cited by scientific authors in methodize to be of social or relating to housekeeping value is at odds with the belief of the UK and Dutch governments, the European Union, Max Planck and other proponents of Open Access publishing who are bitter to ensure that primary literature reaches “the taxpayer”, entrepreneurs, and innovators. The prospect is that wider access will guide to greater innovation – specifically in rehearsal to the creation of jobs and services, and the anticipation of solutions to problems. This conflicts with the traditional model of attributing of the university value to citations in that at the same time that these newly targeted end-users force derive benefit from accessing the primeval literature, they do not engage in the briskness of writing – and therefore citing – according to principles articles.

But whether you’re severe to attract citation by academics or change in the seat of a disease by innovators, scientific quality control is clew. Indeed, Peder Olesen Larsen and Markus von Ins would use arguments that what makes a scientific publication a serious one, is not summons but peer review. This latter be able to have several functions, including assessing “spread abroad science” as practiced by Open Access mega journals like PLOS One and Springer Plus, established to print and offer for sale the findings of any research that adheres to given methodological standards. The judgment behind this is several-fold, ~-end includes avoiding duplicating unproductive lines of research, and cascading “out of scope” articles from specialist to diffused-scope journals, to circumvent multiple time-consuming rounds of notice critically. In other forms of peer retrospect, scientific content – not just knowledge of principles per se – may be assessed in spite of a particular function, including the verisimilitude of getting cited.

Given that increasing investing. in science globally means ever greater philosophical outputs (particularly across the fast-augmenting knowledge economies of Asia and Latin America), every part of forms of peer review are currently facing limited capacity. Seeking practical solutions to more of these concerns, a second sight published this week, this time conducted ~ the agency of PRE (Peer Review Evaluation), a programme of the AAAS,  looks at for what cause new developments in peer review strength be delivered. For example, an earlier ~ing from Wiley-Blackwell showed that 77% of researchers expressed each interest in peer review training. The PRE mensuration takes this a step further, exploring in what plight such training might be implemented. What would it consist of? Who would pay towards it? And how would it exist delivered?

Map demonstrating countries where peer reviewers work. Cath Cotton, et. al.Countries from which peer reviewers give rise to. Cath Cotton, Laura Bowater, Richard Bowater. Image used with authors’ permission.

Such training would certainly require the potential to increase the between nations reviewer pool, effectively spreading the oppression. But institutions that do not notice as already known peer review as a “core” platonic activity might be reluctant to besiege in training their staff or be in actual possession of them provide reviews, as part of their job. Australian researchers had a good respond to this back in 2014, being of the cl~s who expressed in their open letter to the Australian Research Council requesting that comrade review targets be set alongside existing blazon targets (see Meadows 2015b). It’s a elementary enough ask in principle, and would bear the immediate effect of addressing the equipoise between peer review and publication. And though it might sound ambitious in frequent repetition, this – led by leading inquiry funders and a handful of general governments – is exactly what happened with Open Access.

Our hope is that ~ means of building on the events and controversy around Peer Review Week, this carping issue will equally start to prevail upon more meaningful attention, and to push peep review up the science policy agenda.

You be able to join in the conversation about Peer Review Week 2016 via the hashtags #PeerRevWk16 and #RecognizeReview, and by following @OxfordJournals and @FEMSTweets on Twitter.

Featured effigy credit: Writing-hands by Senlay. CC0 Public Domain via Pixabay.

Health care screwups are undivided of the leading causes of death in America, killing as many in the same manner with 750,000 people annually.

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