To coincide with this year’s Experimental Biology conference, BioMed Central and BMC Biology organised a panel discussion to explore the increasing frustration with the peer-review process from the scientific community.
Chaired by Greg Petsko (who neatly summarised some of the problems before the discussion here) the panel brought together representatives of each role in the process: scientist, reviewer and Editor (both academic and professional).
“The thesis is that there is something seriously wrong with the scientific review process… which has become, if not outright broken, distorted to the point where it’s hindering people’s careers, and causing more problems than it is solving.”
Greg Petsko, Weill Cornell Medical College, USA
The discussion itself is summarised here, and this video brings together some opinions voiced on the evening, from Greg Petsko, Emilie Marcus, Hidde Ploegh, Josh Sanes and Laurie Goodman.
“I do think there are inefficiencies … it’s important that we look for what those inefficiencies are and identify ways to improve them… that preserve the value and quality of peer review.”
Emilie Marcus, CEO Cell Press
Emilie Marcus, CEO of Cell Press and Editor of Cell, gives her thoughts on the role of the Editor and the reviewer in the process, and current inefficiencies in the system.
Hidde Ploegh (whose high profile call in Nature to ‘End the wasteful tyranny of reviewer experiments’ was referenced throughout the discussion) reiterates his point that funding for science should not be being spent on time-consuming rounds of review in order to publish in high-profile journals, but to ‘get the scientific question answered’.
Josh Sanes, co-Editor-in-Chief of Neural Development, discusses the non-linear effect that journal prestige currently has on the career progression of young scientists.
“The hierarchy of journals has an effect that’s completely disproportionate to the real difference in quality of the papers that are published.”
Joshua Sanes, Harvard University
Throughout the discussion, questions and comments from the floor were forthcoming, and Laurie Goodman (Editor of GigaScience) provided an example of open peer review at it’s most beneficial (which Biome has covered in more detail here).
Goodman concludes the video with her thoughts on how opening up the process can be beneficial, but that a ‘one size fits all’ approach cannot meet the needs of differing scientific communities.