“Peer-to-Peer Review”

There have been several recent developments about using the Internet to revive tradtional modes of scholarly publishing and make it both more accessible and more open to new forms of collaboration.

The Chronicle describes a new report from the Council of Learned Societies that argues the social sciences and humanities need a better “cyberinfrastructure.” The point is not just to preserve artifacts, but to encourage collaboration and to do so in an open access environment.

The Chronicle’s Wired Campus describes the MediaCommons project coming from the Institute for the Future of the Book. This wiki-style project will involve communication studies scholars in real-time peer review – or “peer-to-peer review” – that will emphasize process as much as product.

And Inside Higher Ed reports that 25 provosts at major universities are supporting the Federal Research Public Access Act – a push to require federal agencies to make their funded research available free.

Libraries have been at the forefront of change in scholarly communication – and it’s happening. The next interesting puzzle will be figuring out just how we will deal with these new modes of developing and sharing scholarship. Just how do you provide stable access to a work that is constantly changing? Or point students to research that’s being made public in so many different places?

Author: Barbara Fister

I'm an academic librarian at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. Like all librarians at our small, liberal arts institution I am involved in reference, collection development, and shared management of the library. My area of specialization is instruction, with research interests also in media literacy, popular literacy, publishing, and assessment.

2 thoughts on ““Peer-to-Peer Review””

  1. Two quick points.

    (1) All the projects you list are kindred and promising, but your title (“peer to peer review”) doesn’t apply to all of them. In particular, it doesn’t apply to the Federal Research Public Access Act, which would mandate open access but –correctly– do nothing to change or dictate methods of peer review. Open review and open access have obvious synergies, and it’s not surprising to find them combined in projects like MediaCommons. But it’s important to remember that they are independent in the sense that open review can be done by OA and non-OA publications, and that OA publications can use open or closed forms of review.

    (2) To answer your last question, more than 10 years ago the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy found a good way to “provide stable access to a work that is constantly changing”. It makes the latest edition of the encyclopedia the default for visitors, but it also provides access to quarterly snapshots archived at the site for users who want to consult previous editions.


  2. You’re right of course – I was struck by the phrase when Media Commons used it and was searching for a catchy title. My bad. Nature has explored the idea too.

    I think the Stanford approach is laudable – just not something too many projects think about. The German version of Wikipedia reported at the recent Mania conference that they will freeze some especially good articles for future reference.

    Thanks for posting, Peter. You’re the one who keeps the rest of us on our toes when it comes to OA and it’s much appreciated.

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