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The Promise and Perils of Pre-Publication Review: A Multi-Agent Simulation of Biomedical Discovery Under Varying Levels of Review Stringency

By Jeff Shrager

Abstract

The Internet has enabled profound changes in the way science is performed, especially in scientific communications. Among the most important of these changes is the possibility of new models for pre-publication review, ranging from the current, relatively strict peer-review model, to entirely unreviewed, instant self-publication. Different models may affect scientific progress by altering both the quality and quantity of papers available to the research community. To test how models affect the community, I used a multi-agent simulation of treatment selection and outcome in a patient population to examine how various levels of pre-publication review might affect the rate of scientific progress. I identified a “sweet spot” between the points of very limited and very strict requirements for pre-publication review. The model also produced a u-shaped curve where very limited review requirement was slightly superior to a moderate level of requirement, but not as large as the aforementioned sweet spot. This unexpected phenomenon appears to result from the community taking longer to discover the correct treatment with more strict pre-publication review. In the parameter regimens I explored, both completely unreviewed and very strictly reviewed scientific communication seems likely to hinder scientific progress. Much more investigation is warranted. Multi-agent simulations can help to shed light on complex questions of scientific communication and exhibit interesting, unexpected behaviors

Topics: Research Article
Publisher: Public Library of Science
OAI identifier: oai:pubmedcentral.nih.gov:2877080
Provided by: PubMed Central

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