In Search Of an Optimal Peer Review System

Richard W. Smith

Abstract


After 30 years of practicing peer review and 15 years of studying it experimentally, I’m unconvinced of its value. Its downside is much more obvious to me than its upside, and the evidence we have on peer review tends to support that jaundiced view. Yet peer review remains sacred, worshipped by scientists and central to the processes of science -- awarding grants, publishing, and dishing out prizes. It would be a bold funding body or journal that abandoned peer review, but could we at least do better? I want here to explore peer review -- from a rather personal point of view -- and ask questions about what would be the best system for the Journal of Participatory Medicine.


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