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What is the value of peer review -- some sociotechnical considerations

By William P. Hall and Susu Nousala

Abstract

Scientific and technical knowledge of the world grows through individual processes of speculation, making and documenting knowledge claims, the social processes of circulating and testing them, and the cyclic iteration of these processes to incrementally build on what is already known. Formal publication of claims in journals has been critical to circulating and critiquing new knowledge claims. Editorial peer review supposedly justifies the costs of the publishing activities surrounding it. Yet publishing costs, largely paid by libraries, have become unsustainable. Also, the costs discourage many from publishing and limit access of others to what is published. Today’s editorial peer review results from the exponential growth and specialization of the sciences in the second half of the 20 th Century, but offers little genuine epistemic value. It may actually thwart the advancement of innovative and revolutionary research. Following Popperian evolutionary epistemology, we consider the social and epistemological dynamics of editorial peer review. We also note that that the ever increasing sophistication of digital technologies extending our cognitive capacities provides a pathway to very substantially reduce the cost of publishing whilst at the same time increasing the transparency and value of genuine peer review

Topics: Organization Theory, Karl Popper, Evolutionary Epistemology, Internet Technology, Publishing INTRODUCTION, WHAT FORMAL PUBLISHING IS SUPPOSED TO ACHIEVE
Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:CiteSeerX.psu:10.1.1.211.2439
Provided by: CiteSeerX
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