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HomeHealth EconomicsWhy I’m not quitting peer overview

Why I’m not quitting peer overview


Chris and I differ in a number of methods. For starters, I nonetheless eat cheese. And, to misquote the late Charlton Heston, you may pry it from my chilly, useless fingers. I will even proceed to look overview pre-publication manuscripts, though my defence of doing so gained’t be as vehement as for dairy product consumption.

To start by setting out my reviewing expertise, I’ve executed in all probability round 50 critiques for 15-20 totally different journals. I don’t have a lot expertise of sitting on an editorial board, having joined The Affected person’s just lately sufficient to not remorse it but. My method is to be truthful and constructive, and my purpose is to assist the authors enhance their manuscript, even within the comparatively uncommon circumstances the place I like to recommend rejection. I don’t determine myself to authors, however I’m unconcerned if folks can work out it’s me. (That is often fairly straightforward – my critiques are those urging you to quote Webb et al.)

Chris efficiently defends himself in opposition to hypocrisy for nonetheless sending manuscripts to journals with pre-publication peer overview whereas not reviewing himself. Publishing in these journals is a profession necessity, and in his view it’s the journal’s choice to make use of peer overview, whereas he himself would reasonably do with out it. My main cause for persevering with to overview is that I would be a hypocrite for not doing so: I would like my manuscripts to be peer-reviewed, so it’s only truthful that I present critiques for my colleagues.

Dr Unusual Remark, or How I Realized to Cease Worrying and Love Reviewer 2

I can’t consider a publication of mine that has not been general improved by present process pre-publication peer overview. Even the comment that one in all my manuscripts was “awfully boring” was useful. It made me realise that I hadn’t introduced out the attention-grabbing features of the work, and spurred me to revise the manuscript in order that the printed model was (hopefully!) much less boring. Such suggestions might be offered post-publication, in fact, however this manner I don’t have to fret about placing howlers within the public area, and readers are spared from slogging by the boring model of the paper.

Another excuse for preferring the non-public and nameless suggestions that pre-publication overview affords is that I’ve better belief that the reviewers are being trustworthy with their opinions. Anonymity, and the data that only some folks will ever learn the feedback, is useful to those that in any other case could be afraid of placing their heads over the parapet to criticise others’ work publically. That is particularly vital when junior researchers are sometimes offering critiques of influential professors’ work.

Being a reviewer additionally has many advantages. Particularly for junior researchers, intently studying and critically appraising colleagues’ work can assist enhance their very own apply. One other benefit of reviewing is that, like everybody, I’ve an ever-expanding to-do record. The dedication to offering a overview is extraordinarily useful in preserving abreast of the present literature.

Given the virtues of peer reviewing I’ve listed above, I don’t imagine, as some argue, that pre-publication peer overview is basically damaged. This isn’t to say that it’s good. I’ve my justifiable share of horror tales – ready eight months for a desk rejection, reviewers who clearly haven’t learn the paper, and so forth. But I don’t imagine this implies we should always scrap the entire system. In the remainder of this publish, I discuss why I don’t suppose we should always transfer to a totally new means of publishing work, in addition to some methods we will enhance the system we’ve got. (A disclaimer: these are my private opinions, primarily based by myself experiences, which can inevitably be anecdotal. Your anecdotes could be totally different.)

Going postal

Chris argues for changing pre-publication peer overview with post-publication overview. The system would have benefits, which Chris clearly articulates. Nevertheless, I’m considerably sceptical. A key downside with pre-publication overview is the size of time the method takes, and I can’t imagine {that a} post-publication system can be any quicker at arriving at a definitive model of a paper. If something, it could be even slower with out the impetus to get a broadcast manuscript out. It’s true {that a} model of a paper can be out there sooner. But it’s not clear to me that having non-definitive variations of each manuscript floating round can be helpful. There are, in fact, occasions when disseminating outcomes as quickly as attainable is essential, however avenues for doing so, equivalent to working paper sequence, are already out there with out meting out with pre-publication peer overview.

Combined indicators

Whatever the specifics of the proposal, there are two components which I imagine it is necessary for folks making an attempt to create a utopian different to the present pre-publication peer overview system. First, pre-publication peer overview is commonly criticised for being ‘gatekeeping’. But you will need to acknowledge that journals present helpful indicators of high quality, material, and novelty. The indicators are imperfect, and there are actually points to deal with, however given the amount of analysis produced globally, they’re important and inevitable. In any new system, the analysis neighborhood will discover a means of making new indicators to filter out the few articles which a given particular person must learn from the remainder.

Illegitimi non carborundum

Second, I imagine that any reform of the analysis publication system should have in mind the truth that there are actors concerned whose pursuits should not aligned with these of the analysis neighborhood. There are corporations that extract giant quantities of rentier earnings from researchers and universities. I gained’t title particular person corporations, however will reasonably use the umbrella time period ‘bastards’. Given the amount of cash at stake, I can’t imagine that the bastards wouldn’t discover a means of extracting as a lot money as attainable from any new system. Now we have already seen this occur with open-access reforms. Moderately than opening up analysis to the general public and lowering rip-off subscriptions, it has became an costly paywall the place researchers are charged 1000’s, if not tens of 1000’s, for the privilege of disseminating their work. I would like the bastards didn’t exist, and would welcome any proposals which I assumed would do away with them. However these proposals will should be adequate to outsmart well-resourced bastards with lots to lose.

All the time look on the brilliant aspect of life

To counteract the reasonably pessimistic views above, I need to conclude with some methods during which we, as a analysis neighborhood, can assist enhance a far-from-perfect system. First, we should always attempt to discover a publication system which works for well being economics. We’re our personal self-discipline, and what works for physics, or medication, or ‘economics economics’ gained’t essentially work for us. We shouldn’t be afraid of divergence, nor ape different fields for the sake of it.

As a neighborhood, we as well being economists ought to focus on extra what we wish the peer-reviewing course of to seem like, and what we imagine makes a superb overview. We must also be higher at offering coaching and steerage for brand new (and not-so-new) peer reviewers. I’ve my very own opinions about what makes a superb overview, and the best way to be a superb reviewer. Nevertheless, I’m additionally conscious that I’ve many colleagues, far cleverer than I, who in all probability have significantly better concepts that I may gain advantage from. A means of discussing concepts about peer reviewing in well being economics can be vastly helpful. Maybe HESG might be used as a discussion board for preliminary dialogue, at the very least within the UK.

The peer-reviewers’ flag is deepest purple

Nevertheless, essentially the most elementary issues with the pre-publication peer overview system, in well being economics and elsewhere, are all the way down to an absence of sources. If editors and reviewers are anticipated to work without cost, it must be no shock that the work isn’t all the time of the best customary. The saying goes that in the event you pay peanuts, you get monkeys, however most journals don’t even pay peanuts. Reviewing can be anticipated to be executed on high of a full-time job (which in apply is often significantly greater than a full-time job). As reviewing and enhancing are anticipated elements of teachers’ jobs, they should be an express a part of our contracts, with particular time allotted to them. Maybe that is considerably naïve given the funding constraints our establishments are underneath. However in the event you don’t ask, you don’t get, and I imagine that is one thing commerce unions must be campaigning for.

On the finish of the day

Lastly, I imagine we must be open to new initiatives and concepts to assist enhance the well being economics publication course of. Regardless of largely arguing in favour of the established order, I hope that the weblog’s new peer overview web page is successful and supplies a helpful different and much-needed competitors to the traditional publication course of. Within the meantime, in the event you’re persevering with to submit by way of the usual pre-publication overview route, bear in mind: you by no means know who your Reviewer 2 will turn into, so ensure you cite Webb et al.

The writer wish to thank one nameless reviewer (Chris) for useful feedback.


Picture by 3844328 from Pixabay

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