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Open Peer Review & Collaboration

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This brief presentation summarizes my present view on the transformative potential of a fully open access approach in the area of peer review. While a great deal of research has been done on peer review per se, as Peggy Dominy and Jay Bhatt discuss in the same series, progress in science depends not just on incremental progress, but also on periodically reexamining our most basic assumptions. It is timely to do this with peer review - a long-standing tradition which may have evolved from the time of the Inquisition, as Peggy and Jay point out - not an optimal approach for Galileo, and perhaps not an optimal approach in our day and age, either.

Open sharing of information may be optimal throughout the research process - from investigating which research questions to pursue to every step of the experiment itself, as Jean-Claude Bradley has demonstrated with his Blogger Lab Notebook experiment. As an example f how this works: if there is a better research method, why not find out before you do the experiment - not after it is finished and you believe the work is complete and ready for publication?

Another way to look at this is that peer review is really a form of collaboration, of researchers working together, critiquing and supporting each other. Why not work openly and collaboratively together as peers throughout the research process, rather than submitting finished work for blind peer review when it is finished?

There likely are differences in potential for rapid change in different research areas. For example, in an area which bridges pharmacology and toxicology, where a slight error could be fatal - let's be careful with our quality controls, and keep traditional peer review until a better method is found. Most areas of research, however, have no such dire consequences, and there is no reason not to move forward, and experiment with new methods.
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