5 Jul 2010

Elsevier experiments with peer review

Well I never. I've been advocating the adoption of open peer review and community peer review for a while now; I didn't expect one of the pioneers of community peer review to be Elsevier, but they've surprised me.

On 21 June, they announced a three-month trial of what they are calling PeerChoice on Chemical Physics Letters, which allows potential reviewers to volunteer to review papers. As Ida Sim points out, this doesn't open up peer review in the sense of making it more transparent, but it should help speed up peer review and it might avoid the bias caused by editors selecting from a limited pool of the same 'usual suspect' reviewers.

The devil is in the details: who gets to be in the pool of potential reviewers; how will you motivate reviewers to volunteer, when getting reviewers to agree when directly inviting them can be hard enough; will volunteers be vetted for suitability for that article; is this alongside or instead of editorial selection? These question aside, let's hope it's a success.

Edit: There's some answers on the hidden-away page about PeerChoice - PeerChoice is supplementary to editor-invited reviewers. Registered reviewers will see titles and abstracts and be allowed to download the manuscript if they agree to provide a "timely review." There doesn't appear to be a vetting/vetoing system, but the editor still makes the decision. The trial is on nanostructures and materials; the results might not be applicable outside that very narrow field as scholars in different fields react in very different ways to variations in the peer review process.

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