Scientific peer review of research concepts

Thursday, August 01th, 2013 by hinrich

Black Hat

I regularly hear people complain about meetings. They can be inefficient especially when one or more people are present wearing a black hat / basically just criticizing without contributing to solve an issue.

As I have been co-author of a number of scientific articles and I am currently busy with another one, I just realized that - like many other authors of such articles - I was thinking about the peer review process. Who will be reading the article? What will they criticize?

Similar to how Edward de Bono attempted to improve brainstorming with his concept of the six thinking hats, I am wondering whether we are not wasting a lot of money and time by using the wrong order in our peer review process of scientific research.

Why don't we have a scientist come up with an idea/concept and have that peer-reviewed first? Once such review process has established what experiments should be done to test a certain hypothesis, the next step is only to review the results and execution. This will avoid the reviewer lottery where you never know whether a reviewer will agree with your point of view or whether you will get a reviewer assigned who will only criticize your work.

And instead of replacing the old system with such a concept, introduce it as an option. Allow people to continue with the old system, but generate the opportunity for researchers to surely get their work published by providing them with a peer-reviewed-concept-token that tells the journal editor that the approach is solid. Then editors can still decide whether the content and/or results are suitable for a given journal.

Because criticisms can always be found in scientific research...

Posted in Science