Peer Review: Increasing Transparency in Standards and Practices

by | Nov 10, 2018 | 0 comments

This was a highly informative and useful session on the current state of peer review and ways to improve it.

Mark Edington, Director, Amherst College Press, started a consortium of 53 colleges (Lever Press), focusing on humanities and humanist social sciences (HSS). He started from the premise that OA has a reputation problem because many people think it means not peer reviewed. When he published a blog post about this on the Scholarly Kitchen, he received a lot of incendiary comments. The best fix to asserting the problem of peer review is to assure transparency. See this article on principles for emerging system of scholarly publishing which asserts:

“The system of scholarly publishing must continue to include processes for evaluating the quality of scholarly work and every publication should provide the reader with information about evaluation the work has undergone.”

We have figured out how to do this in rights. Creative Commons has created three “layers” of licenses. How can we do the same thing in peer review? Peer review is an act of the Scholarly Commons. Nature has a perfect form for signaling a collaborative work: the hexagon. Here are photos of possible signals of peer review.

Peer Review Symbols

Peer Review Symbols

Peer Review Symbols 2

Using symbols like this would be modular, extensible, and scalable. Some important issues are not being addressed:

  • Crediting the labor of peer review,
  • Diversifying the pool of reviewers,
  • Institutional acknowledgement of per review,
  • Shifting to open peer review as a norm, and
  • “I am angry about peer review.”

The next step is to hand these issues over to others in the field.

Charles Watkinson, Associate University Librarian, University of Michigan and Director, University of Michigan Press, said that operationalizing peer review signaling is particularly relevant to OA publishers. The University of Michigan Press publishes Lever Press books on the Fulcrum platform. Lever is an experimental press; Fulcrum presents components as well as the work so it is appropriate for multimedia, extra images, 3D models etc. Authors therefore do not have to strip away their research to get beyond the print facsimile e-book. Each component has its own identifier and metadata. Not all assets will necessarily go through the same process.

Angela Gibson, Director of Scholarly Communication, Modern Language Association (MLA), discussed peer review at MLA.

Peer Review at MLA

Peer review is an extension of a democratic process and is one way that members of a society can interact and say what they care about. How can peer review transparency benefit a scholarly society like MLA? What challenges exist to adopting peer review transparency for scholarly society publishers? Peer review is a pedagogical act and can advance pedagogical aims. The purpose of transparency is to instruct, and educators can help students find reliable resources if peer review is better understood. Benefits of peer review include

  • Expanding an understanding of what gets reviewed,
  • Encouraging the development of tools to identify peer reviewed items,
  • Promoting source literacy, and
  • Advocating for an ethical review process.

Elizabeth McKeigue, Dean of Library, Salem State University, Salem, MA, described a librarian’s perspective on peer review: Its importance may not be immediately apparent. Librarians teach information literacy: getting students’ attention, making an impact, and saving their time. The first time that most students will encounter concepts like peer review is in their courses. Here is ACRL’s Information literacy framework.

Information Literacy Framework

Scholarly work falls into this. Indicators show the “what”, but not “how “or “why”.

Peer review indicators

Peer review transparency promotes deeper understanding of clear metadata and appeals to a wide variety of learning styles. Here are some questions to consider.

Peer review questions


Sign-up Today!

Join our mailing list to receive free daily updates.

You have Successfully Subscribed!