Friday, October 11, 2013
Some recent papers on reviewing at journals
The value added of the current review process for publication is coming under increasing scrutiny. I am not sure exactly what I think, though I am inclined to believe that we are putting in a lot of effort and it is less clear to me than it should be that the effort is worthwhile. At any rate, here are two papers (here, here) that recently dealt with the topic in non-linguistic journals. I am not an exceptionalist in these matters and tend to believe that what happens elsewhere also happens within ling. The first paper is a bit of an expose on open access journals that came out in Science. They may have a bit of a conflict of interest here given that open access publishing is at odds with their model. Interestingly, some high quality open access journals came out great (Plos 1). And even more interestingly, PLOS 1 uses a very different review evaluation process than most other high flying journals. The second piece is a corrective to the first. It notes that the problem is not restricted to open access journals and that even high flyers are having quality control issues. The larger issued raised by the second paper is whether these quality control problems are worth tightening or is the cost just too high and we need another method for disseminating and evaluating research.
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I think that there are real concerns surrounding the effectiveness of the peer review process in linguistics, but they're not at all the same as the predatory publishing concerns that the Science sting operation is highlighting. The Science sting shows that there are many disreputable journals that are willing to publish research that is obviously crap. This shows a world where too much work is getting through the so-called peer review process, and so scientists lose faith in the process. This is not the problem in linguistics. Our problem is more that the peer review process is perceived, rightly or wrongly, to be cripplingly slow and difficult, with the effect that many simply don't participate in the peer review system, leading to further deterioration of the system. The end result is again loss of faith in peer review, but it's for a rather different reason.ReplyDelete