Stifling innnovation or filtering for excellence?

An article in the Financial Times, Science stifled? Why peer review is under pressure (11 June 2008), reports various recent criticisms of the peer-review system, including a letter to the newspaper by 25 distinguished scientists calling for a “global fund to support inspired scientists, free of peer review”; news of a Royal Society pilot scheme for a “blue skies” research fund, to avoid the “constraints of conventional peer review by using a generalist panel to consider proposals from any field, on the basis of their novelty and potential to open up new areas of science and technology”; and in the announcement of this year’s Grand Challenges programme of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Tachi Yamada, the foundation’s head of global health, is cited as saying “We’ve got to get around peer review – it’s anathema to innovation. Innovation has no peers, by definition.” 


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