What is wrong with traditional peer review?

Peer review is the current hot topic of discussion in publishing circles, and the situation is no different at BioMed Central. We’ve already organised two panel discussions on the subject, one in Boston at the Experimental Biology conference (21 April 2013), which focussed on the limitations of the traditional peer review model, and another one at our Editors’ Conference in Doha, Qatar, last month, where we discussed innovations in peer review.

We simply can’t get enough of the subject though, so following on from the success of the panel discussion in Doha, we’re going to continue peering into peer review with BioMed Central Editors at our London (UK) Editors’ conference this Wednesday, 14th May.

Topics for discussion will be:


Should peer review be open or closed?

Traditionally peer review has been ‘closed’, so that authors do not know who has reviewed their paper.

However, peer review can be ‘open’ on two levels – first, the names of the reviewers are known to the authors and vice versa, and second, the reviewers’ reports (often with their names) are made available online. Proponents of open peer review argue that it increases transparency and decreases bias.

Is portable peer review helpful?

Portable peer review is a system whereby a manuscript that has been rejected after peer review on grounds of interest by one journal is transferred with reviewers’ reports (and authors’ consent) to a another journal (either within the same publishing company or even across different publishers) instead of being rejected outright. This not only speeds up the publication process for authors but also potentially reduces the number of times one manuscript is peer reviewed, therefore lessening the peer-review burden on the academic community.

What is post-publication peer review?

Many people understand post-publication peer review to be the online commenting and discussion that takes place after peer-reviewed manuscripts are published. In that sense it’s nothing new. However, post-publication peer review as a more formal peer review model involves the immediate publication of a manuscript (after basic technical checks) before conventional peer review takes place. The peer reviewers’ reports and revised manuscripts are subsequently published with the original version of the manuscript.

Speakers on our Editors’ conference panel will include Ian Cree, Section Editor for BMC Cancer, Carole Goble, Editorial Board Member for GigaScience, and Volkhard Helms, Section Editor for BMC Biophysics.

We will be live tweeting from 11am local time (BST).  So make sure you follow the discussion and put your own questions to our panel using the hashtag #BMCEds14.

Shreeya Nanda and Jigisha Patel

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