Post-publication peer review is a reality, so what should the rules be?

Scientific discussions about published papers, which used to take place in lab meetings or over coffee at conferences, now also happen on blogs (especially in their comment sections), discussion boards and Twitter. Websites such as PubPeer and BioMed Central host or aggregate these discussions, but the standards and etiquette of modern post-publication peer review remain to be codified.

Blog Roll Basics

  • What is a blog roll? A blog roll is a list of blogs you like and want to share with your readers. Usually you list the name of the blog and link to the site. If you’re really ambitious, you may give an overview of the blog or link to some of your favorite posts from that blog.
  • How do I make a blog roll? Making a blog roll is fairly simple. You probably don’t want to make it into a blog post that will get buried on your site. Instead, make a static page and list the blogs and links there. Then you can link to it directly from your navigation on your blog’s front page.

Ask a scientist—any scientist—what irks them most about publishing and they are sure to mention peer review. The process has been blamed for everything from slowing down the communication of new discoveries to introducing woeful biases to the literature. Perhaps most troubling is that few believe peer review is capable of accomplishing what it purports to do—ensuring the quality of published science.

Indeed, several studies have shown that, in actuality, peer review does not elevate the quality of published science and that many published research findings are later shown to be false. In response, a growing number of scientists are working to impose a new vision of the scientific process through post-publication review, the process of critiquing science after it has become part of the literature.

Finally, Philip Moriarty experimented, at the Winnower, with post-proposal peer review, posting online for discussion a freshly submitted grant proposal to the UK’s EPSRC. So far, the concept has attracted more comments than the proposal itself. Maybe this was fated, being the first of its kind?