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A Proposal for the Establishment of Review Boards - Bruce Edmonds

1. Introduction

An academic researcher today is faced with many of the same basic problems as those encountered be researchers 50 years ago. These include: finding the relevant work done by other academics, being able to disseminate their work to other academics and gaining the recognition due for it. The nature of these difficulties has changed - the difficulties of access and cost used to dominate academic publishing whereas now academics have access to so much information that they are swamped. New techniques are constantly being developed in order to enable academics to efficiently select the information they want and filter out the rest.

The traditional remedy is the peer-reviewed journal. A relatively small number of trusted academics select what they judge to be worthwhile for the rest to read. The system has its limitations, for example if a reader does not have the same selection criteria as the referees and editor, the available journals may refuse papers this reader would have wanted to read. This restriction was acceptable because of the expense and time it saved. Now, with the advent of cheap distribution via the internet a new trade-off between time and expense and the flexibility of the selection process is possible.

This paper explores one such possible process - one where the role of mark-up and archiving is separated from that of review. The idea is that authors publish their papers on their own web pages or in a public paper archive, a board of reviewers judge that paper on a number of different criteria. The results of the reviews are stored in such a way as to enable readers to use these judgements to find the papers they want using search engines on the web.

The following section (section 2) looks at some recent innovations that use the internet to aid the distribution of knowledge. These innovations pave the way for the main proposal, which is described in section 3. Section 5 relates the proposal to some different pictures of knowledge development. Section 4 then examines some of the possible consequences of the proposal. Section 6 lists some of the practical steps needed in order to implement the proposal and I conclude in section 7.

A Proposal for the Establishment of Review Boards - Bruce Edmonds - 16 MAR 99
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