|Posted on March 18, 2010 at 1:42 PM|
Peer review process is what keeps the wheel turning. Since science has turned mostly into a publish or perish race, peer review process is more important than ever. However, despite the importance of peer-review process it hardly gets any compensation whatsoever. This is why many scientists simply choose not to review manuscripts or feel themselves forced to do it (sometimes just to keep the editor of their paper-to-be happy) and, busy as they are, they may write a lousy last-minute report. Who is to blame?
First of all, the potential reviewer i.e., the scientist. Every researcher should serve as a reviewer, at least to cover the demand of reviewers her/his papers generate. Therefore, it is rather natural to assume the amount of papers to review should be somehow proportional to the amounts of papers published. And not only review the paper, but he should also make a careful reading of the manuscript and write a critic report.
The editorials also bear part of the guilt. Publishing a paper is a complex task, in which several people are involved, all of them receiving some contribution but the reviewer. (I work on the assumption every researcher gets paid for his work.) Some compensation (not necessarily economical) to the reviewer is essential, something more than just the usual acknowledgement letter, the Merry-Xmas card or the journal's calendar.
Last but not least, the scientific community as a whole. This sort of compensation I claim for reviewers should also be reflected in their CV. Many people write in their CV an extensive, sometimes neverending, list of journals in which they serve as reviewers, but hardly anyone analyzing that CV pays any attention (or attributes any merit) to that. I read today the suggestion of some people (see also this) to introduce a Hirsch-like index for reviewers. That would be already something, but of course, we should ourselves start giving some value to such index.