Recent studies (Ware 2008; Sense About Science 2009; House of Commons Science and Technology Committee 2011; Mulligan 2012) have all confirmed that members of the research community attach fundamental importance to the principle of peer review for research publications, at least in general terms. But groups of researchers, publishers and editors all frequently express concerns about the practice of peer review; and recent years have seen a number of experiments and initiatives which modify established practices in significant ways. The dynamic of the relationships between principle and practice, however, have not been systematically investigated.
Thus we lack at present any clear or systematic view of authors’, publishers’ and editors’ adoption of new practices such as open and interactive review; cascade or portable review; post-publication review, comments and ratings (including the use of social media); the use of independent peer review platforms; and so on. Similarly, we lack systematic evidence on the plans or proposals of publishers and editors to introduce any changes in review systems, processes and workflows; or on researchers’ expectations (as authors and reviewers) of necessary and/or likely changes in the mechanics of peer review over the next three to five years.
This brief report examines the current landscape of peer review for research publications, including recent innovations and how they have worked in practice; and to gather and appraise the views of publishers and others as to how systems and processes may change over the next four to five years.