There is a broad consensus that Peer review is the cornerstone of academic publishing. However, there is also a widespread perception that it currenntly has severe problems. Peerage of Science [PoS] is a free service that proposes to solve the issues of peer review with a radically reworked reviewing process [www.peerageofscience.org]. In the service, the author submits the manuscript to a single peer review process and the reviewed and revised manuscript is offered by PoS for concurrent consideration by any respected journal within the field. PoS features Open Engagement – any qualified, vetted scientists with user account can freely engage to review what they want.
Let us explain how PoS can improve on Peer review:
- A single accept-or-reject decision takes on average more than 100 days, and the average rejection rate is over 50 %, correlating with impact factor. Although multiple peer review rounds may improve the output, the system is ineffective: not only in terms using more costly labour on the least deserving research, but also by publication times, on average, of one. In PoS there is one single review process.
- Peer reviewers receive little or no recognition for excellence. At the same time the volume of research requiring peer review has radically increased, which has led to a growing reluctance for reviewing. Furthermore, there is practically no incentive to invest effort to do excellent peer review, which instead is frequently judged to be incompetent. A recent survey revealed that 62 % of scientists have encountered incompetence in peer reviews [D. Resnik et al., Science and Engineering Ethics 14: 305 (2008]). The key innovation of PoS changes this, as peer reviews are themselves judged and scored for scientific validity by other peer reviewers. As a result, PoS can deliver a meaningful academic recognition system, creating incentives for scientists to invest time and effort into peer reviewing work.
- A submission is typically reviewed by only two reviewers, and dishearteningly, the multiply rejected manuscripts (= low quality research) receive more effort from the peer reviewer community than the quickly accepted ones (= high quality research). In PoS this correlation is the other way around: more peer reviewers engage on more interesting work.
These are some key points favouring PoS, but more can be listed. Currently over 3000 journals have access to PoS, which presently is active mainly within the life sciences, but would certainly work equally well within other natural sciences.