As we wrote last week we are celebrating Peer Review Week 2015 by a focus on the theme “dreams and visions about peer review”. Our aim this Peer Review Week will be to publish interviews with scholars from different disciplines based at Stockholm University, who will share their dreams and visions about the peer review process.
Today we publish a short interview with Niklas Janz, associate professor and senior lecturer at the Department of Zoology.
Imagine the ideal peer review context/situation, what does it look like according to you?
– One interesting trend is that some journals have started to publish the reviews alongside the articles. This is a great opportunity for readers to follow the scientific conversation, and also for reviewers to get their hard work seen (if still often anonymous). It may also encourage a more civil conversation during the peer-review process.
The most problematic aspect of peer review is its randomness – high quality criticism is intermixed with hasty and careless reviews. Knowing that your publication will be published may help a bit with this.
I still stand by the anonymity of reviews. Reviewer anonymity is important to avoid corruption of the system. Without anonymity, it is very difficult for a young researcher to seriously criticize work by a senior scientist in the same field, a person who may have significant influence over your future career.
What is the best thing about peer review in your field today?
– I think it works reasonably well. The main function of peer review is as a check for scientific soundness. It is certainly not bullet-proof and is not (and has never been) a *guarantee* for scientific soundness, but I’d still say that it is still the best system we have.
There is some talk about alternative systems, given recent technological advancements and changes in the publication landscape. One such system would be to rely more on “post-publication voting”, but in my view it would be hard to achieve the thorough scrutiny you typically get with peer-review. You might get more eyes looking through the articles, but they may do so less thoroughly.
What makes you want to participate in peer review?
– Partly it is a quid pro quo situation. As I myself rely on getting my papers reviewed I need to do my part to make the system work. But it is also a chance to read novel research and stay updated on advancements in the field. You tend to read the articles you review much more thoroughly than you would have done otherwise.
Do you have any thoughts or want to contribute with your dreams and visions? Please leave a comment.