Peer Review

Since the more conventional academic publications have changed and online publishing isbecoming more common within academia, consequently, other methods to review and evaluate different academic publications are needed; a “more open mode of publishing requires an open mode of review.” In this first chapter, the traditional peer review system is problematized and Fitzpatrick questions if this system really works the way it is supposed to.

The author narrates from a historical point of view how the peer review method originated during the 17th Century censorship by elite societies such as the Royal Society of London: peer review acted as “a quality control system” allowing the state to control and distribute what they considered “knowledge.” Nowadays, academia has taken over this method/system, keeping it alive and disseminating what academics acknowledge as “scholarship.”

In her critique, she points out how the anonymity of reviewers in this traditional system allows them to have “power without responsibility,” at the same time as the author is excluded of the process. In her proposal, peer-to-peer review, she argues for a more open conversation in the review process in which not just the reviewers but also the author has a voice and participates actively. However, I wonder if allowing this type of shift into the review system will or could change the impact and relevance of academic publications. In other words, how is this public conversation helping academic publications be accessible to a broader audience? If these conversations are still happening within small academic circles, even if more publications are done and accessible online, the “knowledge/scholarship” is distributed to a small and specific audience.

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