DOI: 0911.0344Nov 2, 2009Paper

Accelerating the pace of discovery by changing the peer review algorithm

Stefano Allesina


The number of scientific publications is constantly rising, increasing the strain on the review process. The number of submissions is actually higher, as each manuscript is often reviewed several times before publication. To face the deluge of submissions, top journals reject a considerable fraction of manuscripts without review, potentially declining manuscripts with merit. The situation is frustrating for authors, reviewers and editors alike. Recently, several editors wrote about the ``tragedy of the reviewer commons', advocating for urgent corrections to the system. Almost every scientist has ideas on how to improve the system, but it is very difficult, if not impossible, to perform experiments to test which measures would be most effective. Surprisingly, relatively few attempts have been made to model peer review. Here I implement a simulation framework in which ideas on peer review can be quantitatively tested. I incorporate authors, reviewers, manuscripts and journals into an agent-based model and a peer review system emerges from their interactions. As a proof-of-concept, I contrast an implementation of the current system, in which authors decide the journal for their submissions, with a system in which journals bid on...Continue Reading

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