Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Evolution (revolution?) in peer review

The world of publishing in the health sciences has been undergoing major changes. The reason for these changes, at its core, is the revolution in IT. The dominance of paper journals, published and mailed to subscribers is not longer "a given." There are many open access journals now in which the main method of communication is through a web-page, the costs are paid by the authors (usually by the grant that funded the study) and the results are freely available to everybody, either through that Journal's website, or through publicly accessible repositories such as PubMed Central. What is the next step? This may involve an opening up of these repositories to post-publication comment and assessment by a broad readership. PubMed is taking steps in this direction, as discussed in a recent blog entry by Dr. J. Coyne. If successful, this may lead to a democratization of the post-publication dialogue (which previously occurred through a limited number of letters to the editors) that surrounds important papers.