The current process of peer review can be mysterious to the layperson, frustrating for scientists, and perhaps not that beneficial to scientific knowledge.

Here's how peer review generally works:
  1. Scientist sends paper to a "refereed journal."
  2. Journal editor selects two or three specialists and sends them copies of the paper.
  3. Each specialist reads the paper and replies to the editor with remarks on whether the paper should be published, published with alterations, edited and re-submitted, or rejected.
  4. Paper is published or returned to the author. The identities of the specialists who reviewed the paper are not revealed to the author.
Ideally, this process ensures that papers selected for publication add to the body of scientific knowledge. In reality, there can be problems at each step that block papers of genuine merit or let through papers of dubious worth. As Kris notes in the WasteflakeManifesto: "Even when reviewers are scrupulously fair, the process creates long delays in publishing."

The WasteFlake Project opens up peer review. Any individual can put forth a paper; any individual can comment on that paper. The process is also public; each page will show who made the comments or who edited the page last.

Note: The Fifth International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Publication will be held September 15-17, 2005, in Chicago, Illinois. Wasteflakers might want to check out the Call for Abstracts; topics of interest include online and Web-based peer review, online publication and dissemination of scientific information, effects of open access and other publishing models, and more. We can collaborate on a WasteflakeProposal.


Stevan Harnad, "The Invisible Hand of Peer Review", Exploit Interactive, issue 5, April 2000
URL: <http://www.exploit-lib.org/issue5/peer-review/>
Note: Exploit was an accompanying measure designed to promote the results of European Union library projects; Exploit Interactive was its Web magazine, which ran for seven issues.

Peter Roberts, "Scholarly Publishing, Peer Review, and the Internet," First Monday, Volume 4 Number 4, April 5, 1999.
URL: <http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue4_4/proberts/>

NIH Peer Review Process
The National Institutes of Health provides "a simpler snapshot of the process for applications reviewed in the Center for Scientific Review (formerly the Division of Research Grants)."
URL: <http://www.csr.nih.gov/REVIEW/Peerrev.htm>

Created by kristin. Last Modification: Monday 15 of March, 2004 19:39:19 EST by kristin.