ATG Hot Topic of the Week: Will Open Data Solve Peer Review Concerns?

Phil Davis discusses a recent report from “across the pond” in his Scholarly Kitchen blog post Will Open Data Solve Peer Review Concerns? The report “Peer Review in Scientific Publications,” was released last week by the U.K. House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. The report reinforces the importance of peer review and the need to mentor “new scholars on how to provide quality reviews” while noting pitfalls like the inconsistency of peer review across journals. The report also notes “that pre-publication review may be supplemented — although not replaced — by post-publication review” and “that publishers need to continue experimenting with other models for review.” There is nothing revolutionary in these observations. But the report also recommends “that researchers provide access to their raw data to editors and reviewers at the submission stage, and then to the public after publication.” Such transparency is touted as the solution to the various ills that afflict Peer review.

Mr. Davis is openly skeptical. He writes in his blog: “It is not evident, … that open data mandates would improve the integrity of the peer review process, although it may provide a public appearance of it. More likely, it will greatly increase the costs of conducting good science, slow the process of discovery, and put UK scientists at a disadvantage over their international peers.”

Where do you stand on this issue? Should data associated with all publicly funded research be made widely and freely available? Or do the costs outweigh any benefits that might accrue? Let us know what you think.

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