After a very interesting morning and an excellent lunch it was time to put our heads together for the first discussion hosted by dr. Gerben ter Riet & dr. Mario Malicki about the future of our scholarly communication system. Mario introduced the history of peer review practices, which nowadays, has been brought into question by current problems such as P-hacking, HARKing (hypothesizing after the results are known) and the replication crisis. Participants were invited to think about a new system (i.e. pre-print servers) where researchers preregister their study before they collect or analyze any data. Attendees were asked to share their opinions on the following question:
‘What would be the pros and cons of switching to pre-print servers and post-publication peer review?’
Using an online platform (meetingsphere.com) attendees were able to interactively join the discussion. Once most answers were received, the organizers shared the 78 comments on the screen. Together with the audience they grouped them into pros, cons, unspecified and questions.
Most frequently named advantage of switching to pre-print servers would be that manuscripts can be published faster which can lead to less duplication of work. Secondly, researchers will be more independent from publishers and paywalls. Transparency and openness are mentioned frequently. When the peer review process is made public a more diverse group of researchers can comment on the paper which could enrich the quality of the paper. A big concern of this last point among attendees however was that this might increase the risk of people giving an opinion on a paper without having the necessary expertise to do so. It can potentially be difficult to distinguish between good and bad science. Another point of critique was that it only takes into account one function of scientific publication, namely checking quality and debating. It does not address the other function such as defining what counts as top research.
Proponents of post-publication peer review claimed that it increases the efficiency of disseminating ideas and results. While for preregistration it is unclear whether the comments will lead to an altered publication in a post-publication system, reviewer’s comments usually result in an adjusted publication. Also, journal editors often carefully select suitable reviewers with the right expertise. There would be no room for this in a pre-print system where everybody can comment.
Finally, as it is often the case with a good discussion, more questions arose than answers could be found in this short time. Feel free to have a look at all the comments from this discussion at: https://eu01.meetingsphere.com/01028638/nrin (open until 15th of June).
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