Does ‘Peer Review’ Mean Anything to You?

Journals

[Photo by marinegirl]

A new website, bpr3.org, has been set up to highlight peer reviewed research – the process by which academics check each other’s work.

A discussion about ‘peer review’ is ongoing over at Cognitive Daily suggesting science bloggers should use an icon to indicate when they are discussing peer reviewed research. Peer review is simply the system academics use for checking each other’s work. Before research is published in peer reviewed journals it gets sent to other experts in the field to be checked. Peer review is seen as the academic gold standard.

Whether you realise or not, almost all the research I cover here on PsyBlog is peer reviewed. That’s simply because most academic journals I use are peer reviewed. I rely on the reference section at the end of each post to highlight the fact that I’m reporting reputable scientific research. For example, you can see a study has been published in Psychological Science so you know it has been properly checked – or at least it should have been(!).

Dave Munger at Cognitive Daily (and others) argue that it would be useful for readers to see when bloggers are discussing peer-reviewed research. To this end they have set up a website aimed at producing a logo for science bloggers to display. More than that, they aim to aggregate peer-reviewed research so that it can be accessed on one site.

Dave argues this site and logo will help to distinguish peer-reviewed research from ‘scholarship by press release’ – the process by which many journalists (and bloggers) simply regurgitate press releases without looking at the original research.

Cabiblog, meanwhile, points out that some fantastic, rigorous scientific research is published outside peer reviewed journals.

Post your views

I’d be very interested in your views on this. I know many of you are academics and students and so will be familiar with, or at least aware of, the peer review process. But what about those who aren’t familiar with this – does a reference section convince you the research is kosher? Does the phrase ‘peer review’ mean anything to you?



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About the author


Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and the author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick". You can follow PsyBlog by email, by RSS feed, on Twitter and Google+.

Published: 16 August 2007

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