Thursday, May 17, 2007

Peer Review Quality Must Be Improved

Read "Peer-review quality must be raised, says report" in Research Information. (26 April 2007).

"A number of options are available to raise the quality of peer review, according to a new report from the European Science Foundation (ESF). The report ‘Peer review: its present and future states’ draws on ideas from an international conference in Prague in October 2006.

:A central theme of the report is that the current peer-review system might not adequately assess the most pioneering research proposals, as they may be viewed as too risky. John O’Reilly, former chief executive of the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), now vice-chancellor of Cranfield University, said that traditional peer review might be too risk averse. He suggested the need to encourage pioneering research that is high risk in the proposal, but high impact if successful."

Comment: Reviewing of proposals is difficult to manage well. The word "peer" in "peer review" is difficult to define, as it is in the term "jury of ones peers". What one wants to do in the peer review process is:
  • recruit people who have the requisite expertise (as a group) to review a project well,
  • organize them so that they can bring that expertise to bear on the proposal effectively, and
  • provide them with incentives to do so.
Many projects require people in two or more disciplines to provide a good review. Projects involved in technology development require not only experts in the technology per se, but also people who can judge the market for the technology if developed. JAD

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