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Why I’m quitting peer assessment


Cognitive dissonance is a part of the human situation. I used to eat cheese. However we will do higher if we strive. I don’t eat cheese anymore, and I received’t interact in pre-publication peer assessment. I give up.

On quite a few events, I’ve written about my dislike of pre-publication peer assessment. It doesn’t work. And but, I’ve promoted platforms that assist the system, corresponding to Publons. I even joined the editorial board of PharmacoEconomics – Open, and I fairly lately grew to become an Affiliate Editor for Frontiers in Well being Providers, journals that depend on pre-publication peer assessment.

I’ve tried to be an excellent and honest reviewer. I often establish myself by identify in my studies, to permit the victims a chance for retaliation. I’ve reviewed or edited greater than 100 papers in my time, and I can rely on one hand those who I advisable for rejection. Only a few papers are devoid of worth and past salvation. I’ve by no means been comfy issuing suggestions for (or in opposition to) publication, however nonetheless I’ve executed it.

I received’t rehearse the criticisms of peer assessment, as you possibly can examine them elsewhere. What you learn right here is a minimum of partly impressed by Adam Mastroianni’s article; it inspired me to lastly take motion. However I’ll add that I feel well being economics is very constrained by peer assessment, adopting neither the working paper tradition of economics nor the pre-print tradition of well being sciences. And it’s excessive time for change.

Authors should not the issue

Maybe crucial problem on this context is that we – the researchers – depend upon journals for our livelihoods. Journals make the principles. Thus, we stay complicit. I sympathise with the concept of boycotting journals altogether; I as soon as believed this to be the one approach ahead, and a painful one at that. However it isn’t a crucial step in coping with the peer assessment drawback. That’s as a result of authors should not the difficulty right here. Peer reviewers and editors are the issue, or a minimum of it’s they who maintain the system.

I’ll – as necessitated by my occupation – proceed to submit manuscripts to journals that make use of peer assessment. And that doesn’t make me a hypocrite. After I undergo a journal, it’s not as a result of I need them to supply me with peer opinions. I’d a lot quite they didn’t ship it for assessment in any respect. However it’s their alternative. I simply need them to publish it, within the hope that my paper may attain folks that it in any other case wouldn’t.

In selecting to topic our personal papers to a journal’s peer assessment course of, we’re doing nothing improper. It’s self-flagellation, certain, but it surely isn’t contributing to the skewing of the scientific endeavour (until we promote out and make adjustments in opposition to our higher judgement). What’s improper is to topic others to look assessment, and doubly so if the method is blind. They don’t deserve flagellation, and positively not from a masked perpetrator.

What now?

I’ve handed in my discover (0 days) to PharmacoEconomics – Open and to Frontiers in Well being Providers; they shall seem ominously on my CV, with an finish date. I’ll not present or oversee pre-publication peer opinions for both journal, or every other. I ought to say that I nonetheless like each journals. Tim Wrightson is among the greatest journal editors in our area. The Frontiers mannequin of interactive peer assessment is much better than virtually each different writer’s. However, I need to hasten the transition of each journals to a mannequin that doesn’t embody pre-publication peer assessment.

There are a minimum of 3 ways by which we will pull our weight with out contributing to pre-publication peer assessment.

First, we will dedicate extra time to post-publication peer assessment. A rising variety of platforms and publishers assist it. F1000Research is among the greatest publishers on this house, and there are platforms like PubPeer. There are additionally less-joined-up approaches to post-publication assessment, corresponding to writing about articles on this right here weblog.

Second, there are just a few kinds of pre-publication peer assessment that ought to proceed, and I’ll attempt to do these extra. One is doing all your colleagues or mates a favour and taking a look at their paper earlier than they submit it. One other is discussing working papers at conferences or different conferences. On this context, authors should not beholden to reviewers and might rather more simply ignore suggestions if it’s improper or unhelpful.

Third – and that is hypothetical for me in the intervening time – we will serve in editorial roles that don’t contain pre-publication peer assessment. In a world with out pre-publication peer assessment, publishers will nonetheless have to make editorial selections, and that’s high-quality. Within the meantime, platforms corresponding to medRxiv or F1000 keep primary requirements to filter out the drivel.

In order that’s it. No extra pre-publication peer assessment for me. My morality has discovered steadiness; my thoughts is comfortable.

Saying a brand new function

With all that in thoughts, we’re right now launching a brand new function on the location. Our purpose is to encourage extra post-publication peer assessment within the area of well being economics. To realize this, we’ve launched a easy webpage the place you possibly can solicit opinions for papers and discover papers to assessment. Go to our new Peer Overview web page to get entangled.


Photograph by Mediocre Studio on Unsplash

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