Rethinking Peer Review

Given the discussion that the Critical Studies had earlier this week about Morville and folksonomies — and what counts when doing background reading for research — this article from Wired makes me rethink how the research gets done in the first place.

Scientists frustrated by the iron grip that academic journals hold over their research can now pursue another path to fame by taking their research straight to the public online.

Instead of having a group of hand-picked scholars review research in secret before publication, a growing number of internet-based journals are publishing studies with little or no scrutiny by the authors’ peers. It’s then up to rank-and-file researchers to debate the value of the work in cyberspace.

The web journals are threatening to turn the traditional peer-review system on its head. Peer review for decades has been the established way to pick apart research before it’s made public.

Wired News: Web Journals Take On Peer Review

The entire notion of what and how academics write is being turned inside out. In the past, the process of peer review supposedly meant that everyone got a fair reading and constructive criticism for revision, all in an anonymous fashion.

Of course, that is not exactly how reading and writing in the academy actually happens, but that is beside the point. Now, with blogs and wikis, it is easy to publish and collaborate on our writing and research in ways that makes peer review more transparent and immediate.

In many ways, I think that this makes us more accountable, in a good way, to get ideas out there faster. I was talking with a fellow grad student earlier this week and we were sharing how it is tough to get articles related to technology “out” in a timely manner given peer review processes. Maybe these online journals are the way for writers like her and I to share our work.

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