Author: shivalibest

Peer Review Debate VIDEO

On the 2nd April we hosted a debate called Peer Review is Broken, How Can We Fix It? After a brief talk from each of the panelists, the debate was opened up so that the audience could ask questions. This video is the panelists’ talks section of the #prwdebate. 



Filmed and edited by Shivali Best and Abby Beall.

Peer Review Debate – Question Time

On the 2nd April we hosted a debate called Peer Review is Broken, How Can We Fix It? After a brief talk from each of the panelists, the debate was opened up so that the audience could ask questions. This audio is the question and answer section of the #prwdebate. 

Recorded and edited by Shivali Best and Abby Beall.

Postgraduate perceptions of peer-review

City University has over 150 taught postgraduate courses. As many of the students on these courses will both undergo the peer-review process themselves, and probably peer-review someone else’s work, I thought it would be interesting to survey them on their thoughts of the process.

Here are some of my results:

1) Do you think there should be more open access journals?


From a reader point of view, I want more open access journals, but from a writer´s view – no, because I will not publish if I have to pay! I have peer reviewed once and this was a very bad experience. It seemed to me more the cosmetics of the editor having fulfilled the peer review process than real care about my thoughts.



Reviewing supervisors’ work – Yes or No?

I sent a survey out to the postgraduate students at City University London about their thoughts on the peer review process. One of my questions asked:

Would you be happy to peer-review your supervisor’s work?

The results that came in showed a variety of responses. As shown in the graph below, 87% of respondents answered ‘Yes’, while the remaining 13% of respondents said they would not be happy reviewing their supervisor’s work.


Seven of the survey participants also left comments on the reasoning behind their answer:

To find out about their background

It’s anonymous and I’m more experienced in some areas

I consider myself to be an academic, making me capable of reviewing academic studies

Only if it is anonymous. I do not want my supervisor to know I critisise him

I have reviewed both supervisors work. It’s useful to see different writing styles – it helps me realise she isn’t perfect. It’s useful to see the process from draft to submission.

If anonymous.

Good experience as an opportunity to analyse something critically

These responses suggest that as long as the peer-reviewing process is anonymous, they would feel comfortable reviewing a supervisor’s work.


Interview with Professor Alison Smith

Professor Alison Smith is the Head of the Plant Metabolism Group at Cambridge University. I spoke to her about her thoughts on the current peer review process.

alison smith

What do you think of the peer review process? Do you think it helps or hinders research?

I certainly don’t think it hinders research if done properly. In my experience the majority of academics are objective and fair in their assessments of papers and grant applications. The work is judged on the science and then this ensures that experiments are done correctly and interpreted appropriately, with due reference made to other work in the literature. The current trend of journals using editorial office to sift papers before sending to review and only choosing those that are ‘fashionable’ or high profile is not likely to help research generally.


Faking it: an example of the flaws of peer review

In October 2013, a fictional scientist, Ocorrafoo Cobange, who worked at a fake institution, the Wassee Institute of Medicine in Asmara, had a paper accepted for publication by 157 journals, despite the fact the paper had obvious errors that could have been spotted by someone with GCSE level science.

In reality, the author of this experimental paper was John Bohannon, a correspondent for Science  who wanted to show the flaws of current peer-review processes.


Access To Research: National Launch

By @shivalibest

The launch of a two year pilot of the Access to Research initiative, giving users in public libraries access to a wealth of research published in peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings.

On 3rd February, Deptford Library played host to the launch of the Access To Research initiative.

Guest speaker at the event was the RT Hon David Willetts MP, Minister of Science and Universities, who introduced the scheme.

Janene Cox, President of Society of Chief Librarians, went on to describe the challenges facing public libraries in the UK, and why the new initiative would help to improve footfall.


The initiative was led and implemented by the Publishers Licensing Society (PLS). Sarah Faulder, Chief Executive of PLS, spoke about how the scheme would be promoted to increase its use.

As well as hearing about the scheme, we were also able to have a preview of the technology and how the site runs. The search delivery software, Summon, was provided by ProQuest. Phil Hall of ProQuest gave us a demo and explained how easy the site was to navigate.

After the demonstration, the floor was opened for questions. These included questions on how the success of the initiative would be measured, both quantitatively and qualitatively, as well as questions on the future of the scheme.

Access To Research is the start of a two year pilot to allow more people to access articles. It has the potential to revolutionize public libraries in the UK. However, there is already some skepticism being expressed towards the lack of remote access.


We wait with anticipation to see how the public responds to the initiative.