New peer review guide published by the Research Information Network

Peer review: good for all purposes? | Research Information Network.

Peer review is both a principle and a set of mechanisms at the heart of the arrangements for evaluating and assuring the quality of research. A new guide from the Research Information Network provides for researchers and others an outline of how the peer review system works, and highlights some of the challenges as well as the opportunities it faces in the internet age.

Peer review: A guide for researchers sets out the processes involved in peer review for both grant applications and publications. It also looks at the issues that have been raised in a series of recent reports on the costs of the system, and how effective and fair it is.

The growth in the size of the research community and of the volumes of research being undertaken across the world means that the amount of time and effort put into the peer review system is growing too, and that it is coming under increasing scrutiny. The guide looks at how effective peer review is in selecting the best research proposals, as well as in detecting misconduct and malpractice.

The guide also looks at how fair the system is, and at the different levels of transparency involved in the process: from completely closed systems, where the identities of reviewers and those whose work is being reviewed are kept hidden from each other, and reports are not revealed, to completely transparent systems where identities and reports are openly revealed.

The burdens on researchers as submitters and reviewers are by far the biggest costs in the peer review system, and the guide outlines some of the measures that are being taken to reduce those burdens, or at least to keep them in check. A growing number of researchers are taking the view that they should be paid for the time they spend in reviewing grant applications and draft publications. But there are also concerns that such payment would significantly increase the costs of the system, and also of scholarly publications.

The internet has speeded up the process of peer review, and widened the pool of reviewers who can be drawn on. It has also provided new channels through which researchers can communicate their findings, and through which other researchers can comment on, annotate and evaluate them. These new opportunities bring new challenges as well. The take-up of the opportunities for open comments, ratings and recommender systems has been patchy to date; and we currently lack clear protocols for the review of findings circulated in multiple formats, including blogs and wikis. The mechanisms for peer review will undoubtedly change in coming years, but the principle will remain central to all those involved in the research community.

Peer review: A guide for researchers is available at

Authoratory: find an expert in any field

Authoratory is a unique database of contact information, professional interests, social connections and funding of thousands of leading scientists. The content of Authoratory is produced by a computer program analyzing large amounts of data from PubMed. PubMed is a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine that includes over 16 million citations from MEDLINE and other life science journals for biomedical articles back to the 1950s. PubMed includes links to full text articles and other related resources.

Authoratory software data-mining techniques make it possible to discover new information about the authors – the information that is not apparent by reviewing one or two of their articles. For each selected author Authoratory gives the following:

  • the author status: primary or non-primary (primary author publishes articles independently, while non-primary always publishes articles with another author or a group of authors)
  • the list of most frequent coauthors (navigate the social network between the authors using their join publications)
  • professional interests (as indicated by the MeSH keywords and by the statistical analysis of abstracts and publication titles)
  • the author’s affiliated institution and contact information
  • the change of all these parameters across time

Authoratory keyword search is unique as well. It uses keyword frequencies to rank authors against each other. The more papers the particular author publishes for a specific keyword, the higher his rank is in the keyword listings. With Authoratory keyword search it ‘s possible to quickly find all authors with expertise in a specific narrow topic.

Reflections on Google Scholar and Hirsch index

Anne Will Harzing reflects on these citation developments form the perspective of the business and management field. Anne WillShe matches these sources with the Publish or Perish software. This website is one of the soources very relevant to stay in touch with. Two new white papers were added: Reflections on Google Scholar and Reflectionson the h-index. These papers discuss the validity, assumptions, and limitationsof the underlying sources and methods used by Publish or Perish.


Peer review in the internet age: 5 alternatives

Gerry McKiernan Presents 5 alternative models for the classical peer review system:

  1. Open Peer Review (let authors know the identity of reviewers)
  2. Commentary-Based review (two-stage procedure where the first review phase is open)
  3. Community Based review (all submisions accepted with minimal review in a standard tier and only a few with full peer review in the upper tier)
  4. Usage-based review (a metric that uses access statistics as an indicator of significance)
  5. Citation-based (Citebase & Web Citation Index)

The article ends with the following lines;

As observed by Harnad, “the Net …[not only] offers the possibility of implementing peer review more efficiently and equitably …,” but more significantly, provides a “real revolutionary dimension” with such features as “open peer commentary on published and ongoing work.” In addition, the Net provides “room … for unrefereed discussion too, [notably] in high-level discussion forums ….” Such enhancements to conventional peer review need not, however, be limited to features that some may view as simple extensions of the traditional model. In addition to ‘ideal’ conversations, metrics such as access statistics, as well as citing and linking, can also offer impartial indicators of valid and significant scholarship in all its forms, at any and all stages.

Transparancy is primer

Procedures need transparancy to work. Especially when it concerns (peer) review people need to have clear view on the elements and aspects of the process. I recently discovered the Center for Scientific review, where I found a nice list of review documents, fee available for all.

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