David Solomon

New Models of Peer-Review: Implications for the Different Roles Journals Play in Scholarly Communities
David Solomon

Abstract


Electronic communication has provided a great deal of flexibility in how peer-review can be conducted. Journals have begun experimenting with new models of open peer-review that use public comment and discussion as a means of gathering peer feedback for making publication decisions and providing feedback for revising scholarly manuscripts. It is helpful to consider the various roles these journals play in scientific and scholarly communities in trying to assess the value of these new models for peer-review. Twelve years ago Ann Schafner outlined five distinct roles journals play in scholarly communities including building a collective knowledge base, communicating information, validating the quality of research, distributing rewards, and building scientific communities. This presentation will discuss how traditional and open peer-review relate to these five roles and will highlight some of the research on open peer-review as well as the effectiveness of peer-review in general.

Medical Education Online is an open access journal that has been covering all aspects of educating physicians and other health professionals for 11 years. We are in the process of implementing a hybrid open review system. After an initial screening by one of the editors for appropriateness, manuscripts will be published in a special preprint section of the journal and announced to our subscribers. Readers will be able to post comments, which will be screened by an editor before being posted with the manuscript and sent to the authors. Authors will have the ability to reply to comments. At the same time, we will conduct our regular peer-review process with pre-identified experts in the field. After approximately 6 weeks, a publication decision will be made by the review editor based on both the feedback from the public and the selected peer-reviewers. Both sets of feedback will be available to the authors for revisions. Selected manuscripts will be published in the peer-reviewed section of the journal while all preprints and comments will be retained in the preprint section unless the author requests that the preprint be removed. Initially, the open review process will be voluntary.

Feedback will be solicited from authors, readers and review editors via Web-based forms over the next six months. Results from the piloting of this hybrid open review process will be presented in light of the general discussion above on open peer-review.

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