Boing Boing's Take on Peer Review
In case you missed it, or don't read BoingBoing*, I thought many of us might find this article explaining the peer review process an interesting resource. I think the explanation is well done, accessible, and even-handed. It's fairly "science" oriented, but I think it covers a lot of the cross-disciplinary variations. Could be useful in explaining peer review to undergraduates, or students and researchers from other cultures.
Here's one passage I found interesting:
"It may surprise you to learn that [peer review] is not a standardized thing. Peer review evolved out of the informal practice of sending research to friends and colleagues to be critiqued, and it's never really been codified as a single process. It's still done on a voluntary basis, in scientists' free time. Such as that is. And most journals do not pay scientists for the work of peer review. For the most part, scientists are not formally trained in how to do peer review, nor given continuing education in how to do it better. And they usually don't get direct feedback from the journals or other scientists about the quality of their peer reviewing. "
*BoingBoing is a sort of smorgasbord of a blog, with a lot of (intentionally) strange and weird content. I regularly read for their interesting coverage of copyright issues around the globe. Since hiring on local Twin Cities writer Maggie Koerth-Baker as their science editor, they've also been producing some really wonderful science journalism.