Peer Review Week 2016
Interviews with Alice Meadows & Verity Warne
For podcast release Monday, September 19, 2016
KENNEALLY: Like a family that shares the chores to keep a house tidy and welcoming, scientists and academics support each other in many ways, with the shared goal of advancing knowledge. As the global research community marks the second annual Peer Review Week, reviewers are in the much deserved spotlight.
Welcome to Copyright Clearance Center’s podcast series. I’m Christopher Kenneally for Beyond the Book. Peer review, the rigorous examination of research prior to its publication, boasts a long and noble tradition. For centuries, reviewers labored anonymously. Now a new generation of scholars, spurred by the digital transformation of publishing, are developing new forms of peer review that are more open, transparent, and equitable. In 2016, Peer Review Week highlights recognition for review, acknowledging that a reviewer’s work should not be a thankless job.
Joining me from the United Kingdom are two of the founders of Peer Review Week. Welcome to Beyond the Book, Verity Warne.
WARNE: Hi. Thank you for inviting me, Christopher.
KENNEALLY: Well, we’re very glad you can join us. And also on the line, also from the United Kingdom, is Alice Meadows. Alice, welcome back to Beyond the Book.
MEADOWS: Hi, Chris. Thanks for inviting me back.
KENNEALLY: We’ll tell people briefly about your backgrounds, both of you. Verity Warne is associate marketing director, author marketing at Wiley, where she’s responsible for defining and implementing a program of reviewer services in order to engage reviewers and recognize their contribution. And Alice Meadows is director of community engagement and support for ORCID, whose vision is a world where all who participate in research, scholarship, and innovation are uniquely identified and connected with their contributions and affiliations across disciplines, borders, and time. As I mentioned, both Verity and Alice are founders of Peer Review Week, which is now in its second year. It’s a global event celebrating this essential role of peer review.
So I wonder if I could start with Alice. You’ve written about this in the Scholarly Kitchen blog and been the chair of the planning committee for Peer Review Week this year, 2016. Tell us – what’s the impetus behind all of this? Why now, and why peer review?
MEADOWS: Well, peer review is something that I’ve always felt passionately about. In fact, I think possibly my first – not my first, my second post to The Scholarly Kitchen was about peer review. And it was a very personal piece. I had breast cancer a few years ago. And I really appreciated understanding what peer review was and using that to help me distinguish what were good papers to read about – peer reviewed – so I sort of feel a personal connection with this as well as a professional connection.
In my time at ORCID, peer review is one of the central things about scholarly communications that we support at ORCID – and not just peer review actually for authors, for books and journals, but peer review in all its forms, so peer review for conferences and for funders and for promotion and tenure committees and so on. So peer review is really, I believe, a sort of – it underpins everything that scholarly communications does.
In a way, it’s strange that there hasn’t been Peer Review Week before now, given that. There’s been Open Access Week for some time now. So I guess we thought around this time last year – actually, slightly earlier last year – we had a conversation, and the idea of Peer Review Week came up, or having some sort of celebration initially just maybe on the ORCID blog. And then we thought, well, why not make it bigger than that? So we decided to give it a go. Last year was quite small. And this year there was such a lot of enthusiasm that it’s become much larger this year, and we really hope it’s here to stay.
KENNEALLY: Well, indeed. And Verity Warne, at Wiley there, where you’re involved in working directly with authors, particularly around reviewer services, the point of peer review in the past has been that it’s an anonymous labor. And the direction that Peer Review Week is sort of promoting is this recognition for review. What’s changed? Why would reviewers now want to come out of the shadows?
WARNE: Well, I think – this is going back, again, to what Alice was saying – one of the reasons why we felt that Peer Review Week was necessary was because in, I think, a lot of mainstream discourse, peer review has become more talked about, but often in a slightly negative way. There’s lots of commentary at the moment about what’s wrong with peer review. But we felt it was really important with Peer Review Week to recognize why peer review is important. And although it’s not perfect and it’s an evolving process, and it always has been an evolving process – even from the very beginning of its foundations, it hasn’t remained the same since when it first began in the 1800s or so – that we felt – and researchers value it and recognize that it is a central pillar of trust within scholarly communication.
And at Wiley, when we ask our authors what was most – those authors who are most satisfied are the ones who had the best experience of peer review. And conversely, authors who are perhaps less satisfied are those that felt they didn’t experience peer review so well. Peer review is a defining feature of the publishing process for authors. So that’s why we really care about it.
And I think it has evolved, but it’s a proliferation of different models that are there now. So many of the reasons why different models exist are for similar reasons. It’s interesting that whilst a lot of the criticism of peer review might be about potential bias in the process, some of the suggestions for how that can be combated are either to make the peer review process much more open or to make it much more closed. So regardless of what problems people might be recognizing, there’s also a huge number of different approaches to those problems.
KENNEALLY: Right. Some of the issues are, as you say, the openness, the transparency, the equity of the process. How do you feel that drawing attention to peer review through Peer Review Week is going to help advance that discussion and maybe address some of the challenges that are being made?
WARNE: I think sometimes – and Alice, feel free to chip in here – but sometimes I think there’s very strong expression of a particular view, that open review is the absolute – is the solution to everything, and then other people might have a very strong opinion that it’s the total opposite and that actually double-blinded is the way for it. And actually I think what we’re trying to do with Peer Review Week is just to open up the discourse and make it so it’s not an either/or. Let’s recognize what is good about peer review and let’s provide a platform for this discussion to happen broadly across different communities and sort of open things up. Would you agree, Alice?
KENNEALLY: Well, Alice Meadows, if I can ask you about some of the ways – some of the events that you’ve organized. As I mentioned, you are the chair of the planning committee for Peer Review Week. What are some of the programs and events you’ve put together to promote this discussion that Verity was just talking about?
MEADOWS: It’s quite mixed, actually, because we have a committee of around over 20 organizations that have been involved in the planning, and each of those organizations is doing some of their own events. So at ORCID we’ll have blog posts. We’re running a webinar about ORCID’s peer review functionality. But all the other organizations are also individually organizing their own events, plus a whole bunch of organizations that haven’t been part of the planning but still want to get involved. So there’s going to be quite a lot of events. And there’s a calendar on the Peer Review Week website that is either just about to go live or has just gone live, I’m afraid I’m not sure which, which gives information about everybody who’s contacted us and told us what they’re planning is there.
And then we are also doing a couple of things jointly within the planning committee. There are a couple of blog posts that we will all be publishing on our own blogs during the course of the week, so we’ll be sharing those two blog posts. And we’re also creating some videos asking people about peer review, and we’re going to put those together into a kind of collage as well as using them individually, so we’re hoping that that can be a resource that can continue to be used after Peer Review Week is over.
KENNEALLY: Right. We will link to the Peer Review Week website from our own beyondthebook.com site as well as on Facebook and through Twitter so people can certainly search that out and get all of that particular background. And we speak about peer review and we know about your contributions, Alice, to Scholarly Kitchen, which is predominantly in the scientific world, but peer review is really across academia. Are there distinct differences and special challenges on the humanities and social sciences side?
MEADOWS: Verity alluded to this in a point that she was making about the different forms of peer review. And I think peer review, as with everything, there is no one size fits all. I am personally kind of neutral about how peer review is done, other than if it’s done in a rigorous way, and ORCID as an organization is also neutral.
I think humanities – one of the big differences that is often noted about humanities and social sciences, humanities in particular, compared with the sciences is that there tends to be more of a focus on books as a form of publication. There are differences in how peer review is done for books compared with for journal articles in terms of the thoroughness and the speed and actually the reward for it, because typically book reviewers will get some form of compensation, whether it’s free books or actual payment or whatever. So there are those kind of differences.
I think often review of books – there are the same issues around whether they should be open or closed peer review. So in some cases, you’ll know who’s reviewed your book. In some cases, you might have volunteered somebody or suggested somebody. And in other cases, you may not. So I think there are similarities and there are differences. Again, I think there isn’t a one size fits all by discipline by format of peer review. I think there are lots of – it’s very exciting that there are so many different options evolving, and I hope that will continue to be the case.
KENNEALLY: In fact, Verity Warne, as a way to wrap up this discussion here and leave people on a note that they’ll have to search of all of this out – the point that Alice is making that there is no one size fits all, I guess that really underscores everything you’re trying to do with Peer Review Week.
WARNE: Yes, absolutely. And so I think just looking at the list of organizations who are participating on the organizing committee of Peer Review Week really highlights that, because there are people that represent all different types of contribution to scholarly communication. So we’ve got traditional publishers such as Wiley and Elsevier and others. There’s organizations that are looking at the architecture of recognition and credit, like ORCID. And then there’s societies and then there’s advocates for specific forms of peer review. So I think this is a really great way of bringing all those different opinions and views together and opening up discussion about them.
KENNEALLY: We want to thank both of you for sharing all of this with us. We look forward to hearing more about Peer Review Week, and we wish you the best of luck throughout this week. We’ve been speaking today with Verity Warne, the associate marketing director of author marketing at Wiley. Verity, thank you for joining us –
WARNE: Thank you.
KENNEALLY: – as well as with Alice Meadows, director of community engagement and support for ORCID. Alice, thank you.
MEADOWS: Thank you very much.
KENNEALLY: Beyond the Book is produced by Copyright Clearance Center. With its subsidiaries RightsDirect in the Netherlands and Ixxus in the United Kingdom, CCC is a global leader in content workflow, document delivery, text and data mining, and rights licensing technology. You can follow Beyond the Book on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to the free podcast series on iTunes or at our website, beyondthebook.com.
Our engineer and co-producer is Jeremy Brieske of Burst Marketing. I’m Christopher Kenneally. Join us again soon on Beyond the Book.