August 5, 2015

Peer Review, Peon Review

The illustrious and effervescent NT professor known (to human folk) as Christopher Skinner generated some great conversation among academics last week with his blog post about the academic citation of blogs, and another one about peer review. The first topic seemed simple to me: blogs should not be cited as scholarship but they are fair game to cite in scholarship. The second topic required some thought, and here's what I have to say about that. 

There's nothing wrong with peer review. It was, albeit flawed, the best possible system for the old media world. And although the way forward now is NOT to abandon the old way and embrace cacophonous ignorance (perish, forbid!) it would behoove the academy to re-apply the purpose of peer review in the new media world. The old model was a gatekeeper, and a good one, but now barbarians are flooding the court and no one is going to get them out again. The old model was "Filter, then publish." The new model is, and must be, "Publish, then filter.". 

As academic publishing goes more and more online, it needs a new revenue stream. Coincidentally, we'd need a huge budget increase for academics to begin offering a thorough and systematically comprehensive review of all the gibberish (and other stuff) being posted on the interwebs. With less and less administrative burden for dead tree pipeline, and with a noble cause sure to elicit massive donations, we might repurpose our best curators to start providing regular feedback and constructive criticism of the most prominent stuff that desperately needs a professional redressing, and perhaps occasionally showcasing a few modest voices whose ideas are worth fostering. 

We don't need to end peer review. 

We need to establish peon review.

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