Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Different Kind of Peer Review

The traditional approach to evaluating a scholarly article's worth is the peer review process. More accurately, we should say the pre-publication peer review because another approach has appeared in recent years: the post-publication peer review. It is made possible by the Web because reader comments can be easily added to the digital article. Of course, some form of monitoring is needed to screen out unsuitable comments. One scientific journal, the open access PLoS ONE, has offered post-publication review since December 2006. According to its web site, authors should consider submitting their manuscripts to PLoS ONE because the initial review is simply to determine whether or not a paper is "rigorous and technically sound." This speeds up the paper's publication at which point the substantive review begins when readers begin to submit their comments.

Here's a sample paper published in PLoS with comments. You can go directly to the comments by clicking on the "View/join ongoing discussions" link in the box to the right of the article title. Note that the paper, published on May 7, 2008, has comments by a reader appearing on June 3. The comments page has an RSS feed which makes it easy to keep track of new additions to the page.

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