The British non-profit science lobby Sense About Science has unveiled the findings from its survey of 4,000 peer-reviewers. No need for suspense, I’ll give you the bottom line now: Peer review is hardly perfect, but nobody’s got a better idea. Interestingly though, researchers seem to think that more secrecy in the peer-review process could help to improve it.
Now the details. Overall, 69% of those surveyed said that they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with peer review. Another 22% could care less, and only 9% were “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” (see graph right).
But that hardly means that these researchers thought peer review as it stood was the best possible system. Only a third of researchers thought that the current peer review system was the best that could be achieved by scientists.
The surveyors were also asked to weigh in about what they thought could make peer review better. The idea of “open peer review,” where reviewers names are made public, scored just 20% on the survey, while a whopping 76% of researchers thought that “double blind” peer review, where the names of authors and reviewers are hidden from each other, was a good idea. That contrasts with the last time the survey was done in 2007. Back then, 27% of survey participants supported open peer review, while just 71% wanted the reviews to be done double-blind. Incidentally, most Nature-brand journals don’t use double-blind peer review.
Final thought, 41% of those surveyed thought monetary compensation would make them more likely to peer-review papers. Of those wanting benjamins for their time, almost all thought societies or publishers should pony up. There’s lots more in the survey, so take a look and see what you think.