So you want credit for your peer reviews?

1 minute read

Of course, it is only fair to get credit for the time and efforts researchers invest in reviewing their peers’ work. Especially so for early career researchers. But we should be careful what we wish for!

First of all, when we say credit, some will hear metrics. Researchers already endure considerable pressure in reaching an ever increasing number of metrics in an ever increasing businessification of the academia. The time and efforts put into peer review mustn’t equate to yet another bean counting exercise and escalation of number games: How many articles have you reviews? For which journals?

Our reviews and efforts mustn’t become yet more data that becomes an instrument of commercial control over researchers and research outputs. We have seen where this leads with the many commercial predators that rule scientific publishing. Publons, is a site that tracks, verifies, and showcases [their] peer review and editorial contributions. While positive on first sight, the company was bought in 2017 by Clarivate Analytics, the company that manages the infamous and harmful impact factor.

Finally, and this is by far the most important demand for any sensible credit for peer reviewing, is the absolute requirement for our peer review reports to be openly published. Without this, any initiative to get credit for our work is meaningless and will inexorably lead to a weaponised metric.

Further reading:

  • Revisiting: The Problem(s) With Credit for Peer Review, that highlights some of my points above: “If […] we turn peer review into a mandatory career requirement that is rewarded with credit, it changes the nature of the behavior.” and “A second problem with peer review credit schemes […] is the increased power it places in the hands of publishers and editors.”

  • Getting credit for peer review, from 2016, briefly talks about different platforms to earn peer review credits, but completely misses the essential point of open peer review.

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