(Draft in progress)
In a survey of members of the Scientific Research Society, “only 8% agreed that ‘peer review work well as it is’.” “If peer review was a drug it would never be allowed onto the market,” affirmed Drummond Rennie, deputy editor of the Journal Of the American Medical Association and who intellectually provided support for the international congresses of peer review that have been held, since 1989, every four years. If peer review was a drug, it “would not get onto the market because we have no convincing evidence of its benefits but a lot of evidence of its flaws.” Richard Smith (2006, p. 116) also affirmed that regarding peer review there is “more evidence of harm than benefit…[and] Studies so far have shown that it is slow, expensive, ineffective, something of a lottery, prone to bias and abuse, and hopeless at spotting errors and fraud.” Few days ago, Carl Zimmer reported in the New York Time that, according to a study made by PubMed data base, the number of articles retracted from scientific journals increased from (three) in 2000 to 180 in 2009. 6000% of increment in 10 years! One author, Naoki Mori, had published about 30 papers that later has been retracted. Just one journal, the International Journal of Cancer had to retract seven articles authored, or co-authored, by Naoki Mori. “Nobody had noticed the whole thing was rotten,” said Dr. Fang (professor at the University Of Washington School of Medicine), referring to the huge number of retractions by prestigious journals, and related to the same author by prestigious journals. This “Sharp Rise in Retractions Prompts Calls for Reform”
Studies and many experienced editors of prestigious journals have been reporting this problem during at least, three decades. We reported about a significant number of these studies and editors’ experience-based opinions in a more detailed article (http://www.iiis.org/nagib-callaos/peer-review). In this article we 1) described the main weaknesses of peer reviewing processes, 2) identified the objectives of peer review, 3) proposed potential solutions and 4) resumed the process by means of which we identified what might mitigate the reported weaknesses and what might improve the effectiveness of peer review. Among the potential solutions we proposed is to substitute the traditional lineal model of classical printed publications in hard copies with a non-lineal model, for electronic publications, based on cybernetics loops of continuous negative and positive feedback loops. This lineal model does not necessarily exclude some linearity for hard copy publications. In the traditional model the activities of research, writing the results, reviewing and potentially publishing them are done basically in series. But, with the current web information systems, and especially with web 2.0 concepts and technologies, all the above mentioned activities might be done basically in parallel. Accordingly we proposed to develop a web-based information system that would support the proposed cybernetic model. A detailed description of this system is included in above mentioned article (http://www.iiis.org/nagib-callaos/peer-review). We developed about 70% of the proposed software but the Global Recession inhibited the flow of the financial funds that were required to finish the software development and to implement it.
But, the main ideas of the mentioned cybernetic model might certainly be implemented by the current public social media. In our opinion, blogging is one of the adequate means to 1) collect and share reflections and experiences regarding the weaknesses of peer review and its potential solutions, and 2) to provide critical judgments regarding the proposed approach. Consequently, we are initiating this blog as a first step that might produce valuable comments, new information, and the creation of related blogs including, hopefully, research blogs on this very important issue that is requiring urgent solutions or, at least, research oriented to identify potential solutions.
An increased number of concerned scholars are insisting in the importance and urgency of making research regarding “peer review,” “research evaluation,” or “quality assurance of research publications.” Richard Smith, for example, referring to “peer review,” affirms that “Despite being central to the scientific process it was itself largely unstudied until various pioneers including Stephen Lock, former editor of the BMJ [British Medical Journal], and Drummond Rennie, deputy editor of JAMA [Journal of the American Medical Association] — urged that it could and should be studied. Studies so far have shown that it is slow, expensive, ineffective, something of a lottery, prone to bias and abuse, and hopeless at spotting errors and fraud. The benefits of peer review have been much harder to establish.” It is time to make another kind of studies, explorations, and experimentation: those oriented to improve peer review or to substitute it with other means of “research evaluation” or “research publishing quality assurance.” Accordingly, we presented an exploratory proposal and we have the willingness to put our two cents in giving a first step in this (potentially collective) blog and in the process of fostering the creation of more research blogs regarding the improvement of “peer review” or its substitution by other methods of “research evaluation.”
This blogging activity is being started by one or two persons with the hope that more authors will be added as contributors or editors, and more related blogs will be created regarding this issue.
This blog, along with the potential set of related blogs, will very probably be hybrid one: 1) sharing information and reflections, 2) referring to related documents, and 2) doing research via blogging as one of the research means.
 Chubin, D. R. and Hackett E. J., 1990, Peerless Science, Peer Review and U.S. Science Policy; New York, State University of New York Press, p. 192.
 Cited by Smith, R, 2010, “Classical peer review: an empty gun,” Breast Cancer Research 2010, 12(Suppl 4):S13, (accessed at http://breast-cancer-research.com/content/12/S4/S13), p1.
 Smith, R, 2006, “The trouble with medical journals,” Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Vol. 99, March, 2006, p. 116 (accessed at http://jrsm.rsmjournals.com/content/99/3/115.full.pdf)
 Zimmer, C., 2012, “A Sharp Rise in Retractions Prompts Calls for Reform,” The New York Times, April 16, 2012 (accessed on April 19, 2012 at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/17/science/rise-in-scientific-journal-retractions-prompts-calls-for-reform.html?_r=1&comments
 Callaos, N., 2011, Peer Reviewing: Weaknesses and Proposed Solutions, accessed on April 22, 2012 at http://www.iiis.org/nagib-callaos/peer-review/