Open Review Brings Peer Review to the Scientific Masses

April 7, 2014

This seems like a step in the right direction for the world of academic publishing. ResearchGate News announces, “Peer Review Isn’t Working—Introducing Open Review.” We know that increasingly, papers based on shoddy research have been making it into journals supposedly policed by rigorous peer-review policies. Now, ResearchGate has launched a countermeasure—Open Review brings the review process to the public. The write up happily tells us:

“We’re excited to announce the launch of Open Review today. It’s designed to help you openly voice feedback and evaluate research that you have read and worked with, bringing more transparency to science and speeding up progress.

“With Open Review you can:

*Voice your feedback on the reproducibility of research.

*Request reviews of research you’re interested in.

*Discuss publications with the authors and other experts.

“All too often we’ve seen false findings printed in the pages of noteworthy journals while valuable research doesn’t make the light of day, and rarely is anything done about it. Open Review aims to change this. Recent events have highlighted the need for a new system for peer review, and Professor Kenneth Ka-Ho Lee and his team at the Chinese University of Hong Kong are taking the first steps.”

The piece goes on to discuss Professor Lee’s review, the first to be published under the new system. Lee and company analyzed a study published last January in Nature on a new (and more ethically neutral) method of producing stem cells for researchers. Unfortunately, the study contained egregious errors, and never should have made it into print. Elevated hopes were brought back to earth.

The write-up concludes with a call for input from scientists on how to improve Open Review (ResearchGate membership required to comment). ResearchGate was founded in 2008 to facilitate collaboration by scientists around the world. They emphasize a dedication to transparency; this project certainly embodies that goal.

Cynthia Murrell, April 07, 2014

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