Associate Professor Marco Seeber co-authored an article published in Nature calling for research on peer review and new ways to share data in order to make that possible.
– Over the last 40 years peer review has become a cornerstone institution of Science. However, several studies unveiled over time the current limitations of peer review, spurring the need for research to understand and improve peer review. Research is however possible only when data is accessible, something which is currently very difficult, says Seeber, who works in the Department of Political Science and Management at the University of Agder.
The article-manifesto builds on the five-year research project PEERE, in which Seeber was involved as Dissemination and Outreach coordinator, funded by COST. The research project involved scholars from different fields as well as stakeholders in scientific publishing, which cooperated to overcome the problems related to gathering, anonymizing and sharing data. A challenge that encompasses technical, legal and management aspects.
– Different publishers and journals have different formats for storing their data, while there is a need to preserve the anonymity of the people involved. PEERE successfully developed a legal protocol to share data on peer review and a pilot experiment to gather, anonymize and share data from more than 150 scientific journals, says Seeber, making it possible to analyse metadata from anonymized peer review reports.
– We hope that a stable infrastructure can be developed providing data on peer review. Such an infrastructure would enable – among others - research to improve the quality of review reports and the capability to spot scientific misbehaviour, to reduce bias and increasing the reliability of peer review. Peer review has a crucial role to preserve the curation function of journals. The same legitimacy of science is at stake, says Seeber.