July 29, 2011

UK Parliament's Science and Technology Committee issues report on peer review

Excerpted from Fred Friend's July 29 posting to the American Library Association online discussion forum Scholcomm:

The UK Parliament's Science and Technology Committee has produced a Report on "Peer review in scientific publications" which, if the Committee's recommendations are implemented, will initiate several positive developments for scholarly communication. The Report - available at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmsctech/856/85602.htm - examines the current peer review system thoroughly from different angles. Picking up on the importance of reproducibility of research results, the Committee recommend that "data associated with publicly funded research should, where possible, be made widely and freely available". Also significant for scholarly communication in general, are the Committee's "concerns about the use of journal Impact Factor as a proxy measure for the quality of individual articles". Although recognising the value of peer review, the Committee expresses concerns about the way the peer review system currently operates and encourages the "prudent use of online tools for post-publication review and commentary as a means of supplementing pre-publication review". The Committee sees pre-publication review as being effective for technical assessment but needing post-publication review for impact assessment, impact now being of high importance for research funders.


The UK Parliament's Committees are very effective in investigating a wide range of issues of importance (witness their recent questioning of News Corporation executives). [...] For those of you who are unfamiliar with the UK system, there is no obligation upon the UK Government to accept the Committee's recommendations (as we found in the Committee's Report on OA in 2004) but clearly the Committee's views do carry weight.

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