How should the scientific publication process be rethought to be more meritocratic? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
There are two major hurdles en route to meritocratic publishing:
- Speed to publication.
- Peer review meritocracy/efficacy.
The reason why I believe the problem has two major components is that no matter how hard we try to get peer review right, it's really hard to know something for sure during peer review. However, once published, the community at large is able to gauge more effectively if the work is useful, and how much so (typically this is proxied by citation count after publication).
So the question then is how we solve for these. Essentially, I think a few things:
- Open peer review (you know who is reviewing your work).
- Less time allotted for reviewer to review.
- Open access.
- Open science (data availability).*
Open peer review: I actually believe in this rather than go the route of double blind. Saying who everyone is increases accountability even more, and makes it likely that reviewers have the pressure now of doing a really good/sincere job of reviewing.
Less time to review: Reviewers should only be given a few weeks to review papers. Every academic I've every spoken to tells me they do the review in the last week or two before due date any way. So why give time for procrastination. Also, if you can't do it in that time, you can just say 'can't do' and the editor will find a replacement.
Open access: Open access is needed to have more of the scientific community weigh in on your findings. So the more people who see it, the more feedback on the paper itself.
Open science: Open science is catching on more and more, and is essentially used to describe the full gamut of 'open' practices. Saliently, this includes making your raw data public. This not only enables better ability to gauge the work, but also benefits science overall since it will enable reproducibility
I hope we actually move to a place where some of these are adopted rather quickly.
*My own view is open science overall is the key to a better scientific process, including publication meritocracy.
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