Bioethics Blogs

All that’s New with Peer Review

Peer review of scientific manuscripts has been around a long
time. There are apparently plenty of people who think something is not quite
right with peer review because they keep trying to change it. Specifically I am
talking about the peer review of manuscripts for publication. I have addressed
this subject periodically and new developments lead me to address this subject
again.

One new development is so called fast-track peer review.  This type of review is being adopted by at least one journal
of the prestigious Nature Publishing Group,
Scientific
Reports
. The publisher has contracted with a private peer review company,
Rubriq.
  Authors submitting papers to Scientific Reports can opt to have their
manuscript review fast tracked as long as they are willing to pay $750 to cover
the costs. Rubriq in turn pays the peer reviewers $100 per manuscript to review
the manuscript quickly. Imagine that, a faster publication, something every
scientist aspires to is now available to those willing and able to pay more.
This sounds disturbingly like a two-tiered system based on economic resources.
I am also a bit jealous that I did not get paid to review all those manuscripts
over the last forty years. The perverse component of this scheme is that it
makes what was always a volunteer activity into one that now consumes limited
research resources.

Increasingly journal editors turn to suggestions from
submitting authors or the articles referenced in their manuscript to identify
appropriate peer reviewers. This has become increasingly prevalent as the
number of manuscript submissions increases. 
This, in turn, has led to organized efforts to
cheat peer review.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.