The peer review process has been criticized for its flaws, but is universally accepted as a necessary part of the scientific process. Peer reviewing allows experts in a field to determine the validity of a study or an article so that those of us who are less expert can reap the benefits of their knowledge. Until recently this process was almost universally pre-publication and anonymous. Authors would go through months of review and revision based on feedback of experts whose name they didn’t even know. In the last decade journals such as BMJ Open moved to an open peer review process by divulging the reviewer’s identities to the author and publishing the reviews of the experts online for open access to all readers. This open peer review model prevents redundancy and encourages transparency in the scientific process.
Peer Review on a Post-Publication Basis
Even with open peer review, most reviews are done pre-publication. The majority of articles are eventually published, but authors might have their paper rejected by several journals before a journal accepts. This process of repeated pre-publication peer review can result in considerable delay to disbursement of knowledge. For these reasons, post-publication peer review has become a hot topic. Post-publication review allows data to be made readily available to readers while simultaneously the publications undergo formal peer review. Online blog sites are particularly primed for this sort of peer review since their purpose is usually to distribute knowledge in a timely fashion.
Blogs: The Ideal Platform for Post-Publication Peer Review?
Most of us, including those of us at ALiEM, believe that blogs have a built in informal post-publication peer review process since readers are likely in the same field and can comment easily and openly under each blog post. However, the lack of rigorous review by accepted experts in the field has undermined the validity of the online clinical blogs in the mind of others in the scientific community.
My Goal As ALiEM Resident Editor
My goal over the next year as the Resident Editor of ALiEM is to help transition the ALiEM articles to a more formal open post-publication peer review. This means that once the articles are published on the ALiEM website, we will solicit reviews from experts in the field. The experts will be those with established credentials in the topic of interest or authors of the papers cited in the blog post. Once received, their comments will be posted at the bottom of the blog post with a bold red “Expert Peer Review” title separating the post from the review. Coupled with the fact that all blog posts are peer-reviewed by Dr. Michelle Lin (ALiEM Editor-in-Chief) on a pre-publication basis, we feel that this book-ended peer review approach will yield greater content accuracy and hopefully also reader engagement.
How will you know that a blog article has been “Expert Peer Reviewed”?
- We will label the top of the peer reviewed posts with our new “Expert Peer Reviewed” stamp, which may appear one day, one week, or one year after the original publication, depending on when we obtain an expert peer review response.
- You will be able to find the Expert Peer Reviewed articles in their original categories as well as in our new “Expert Peer Review” link under the “Clinical” drop down menu.
- You can find the 5 most recently peer reviewed posts by viewing the right column widget called “Newly Expert Peer Reviewed”. This column will update whenever an expert peer review is added to a post.
- We will be adding a monthly blog post highlighting the articles that have been peer reviewed that month so that you can revisit your favorite posts to see what the experts said. As usual, please take part in the dialogue by adding your comments below each blog post and feel free to direct questions to the experts.
You can find our first 5 peer reviewed articles here:
I look forward to getting to know the readers more over the next year. Please feel free to leave your comments and suggestions about our new project.