New TARG study shows that subjectivity is key for quality peer-review
9 December 2013
New research by Marcus Munafò suggests that increasing the subjectivity of the peer-review of academic papers may increase the quality and veracity of scientific research.
New research by Marcus Munafò and collaborators at the University of Bath and the University of Sungkyunkwan, South Korea, suggests that increasing the subjectivity of the peer-review of academic papers may increase the quality and veracity of scientific research.
In a paper published in Nature, Marcus and his team suggest that reviewers’ behaviour is often influenced by the behaviour of their peers, a phenomenon known as ‘herding’. This herding can result in reviewers converging on an incorrect answer and can prevent science from being self-correcting. Using modelling techniques the authors found that when reviewers were subjective about the research findings they were reviewing, and were permitted to report whether they actually believe a study’s results, the effect of herding is reduced. Other methods of revealing this information, such as post-publication peer review, might also be valuable. These findings have implications for how peer-review is conducted across all scientific disciplines.
This paper has attracted considerable attention from both the academic communities and the media. Join the debate by tweeting @MarcusMunafo. Click the links below to read the current media coverage of this paper:
- Nature podcast - listen to Marcus discuss the research findings
- Nature press release
- The Economist
- The Guardian
- The Conversation
- Chemistry World
- Speigel Online (German)