Weale Albert Weale (dir.) (2007). Peer Review: the challendes for the humanities and social sciences. London : The British Academy.
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|Resource type: Report/Documentation
BibTeX citation key: Weale2007
Keywords: Ă©valuation, scientomĂ©trie
Publisher: The British Academy (London)
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Recent developments raise questions about the way in which peer review is conducted and will be conducted in the future. Some of these developments are positive (such as advances in information technology, which speed up the process and also make it easier to use international referees). Others pose particular challenges (such as the increase in the volume of submissions both for grants and for journals), which add to the burdens of peer review. The proposed development of metrics to play a more prominent role in the assessment of the research performance of departments (RAE) interacts in complex ways with the practice of peer review, which we discuss in the report.
Peer review has its critics, who allege that it is costly, time-consuming and biased against innovation. None of these criticisms is entirely without force, but the Working Group concluded that there were no better alternatives and that often the criticisms were directed at deficiencies of practice rather than the principle of peer review. Peer review is both a mechanism of selection - only those grants and publications are favoured that are positively judged by peers - and a force making for enhancement. Work is better as a result of peer review. Importantly, it retains widespread and deep support among members of the academic community.
Peer review in practice takes a wide variety of forms, reflecting the diversity of subject matter and approaches in humanities and social science research. There is thus no one model that all should follow. We agree with RCUK (RCUK Response to the Project Report and Consultation on the Efficiency and Value-for-Money of Peer Review, June 2007) that peer review is not in fact a single process, but rather a flexible set of mechanisms. 
The British Academy This variety of practice is important in relation to publication. There are many different models of peer review used. It is a considerable merit of the way in which the peer review works in journal publications that there is not one single model of good practice that all should follow, but instead decentralised diversity. Nevertheless, there are principles that good peer review should follow. These include timeliness, transparency and verifiability. These principles cannot guarantee the identification of the best quality work on a fair basis, but without them quality and fairness will suffer.
In the case of grants peer review remains essential if good work is to be identified. In a situation in which applicants have few alternatives to funding, it is important that funding bodies uphold the integrity of their peer review processes. It is also important that they find ways of responding to the innovative and the risky.
Added by: orey Last edited by: orey