Quality Judgments, Cost Concerns Must Be Separated In Peer Review

Peer Review Few discussions arouse as much emotion in the scientific community as the controversy over peer review. As the number of unfunded grants started to rise in the early 1990s, so did complaints about unfair criticisms by reviewers. Many whose applications were unsuccessful claimed that the decisions often were based on reviewers' comments that were inaccurate, irrelevant, or glibly disparaging. While critics of the peer-review system called for reform, its defenders countered that th

Oleg Jardetzky
Jul 7, 1996

Peer Review Few discussions arouse as much emotion in the scientific community as the controversy over peer review. As the number of unfunded grants started to rise in the early 1990s, so did complaints about unfair criticisms by reviewers. Many whose applications were unsuccessful claimed that the decisions often were based on reviewers' comments that were inaccurate, irrelevant, or glibly disparaging.

While critics of the peer-review system called for reform, its defenders countered that the only problem with the system is a lack of funding to support meritorious research. In reality, the shortage of funding and the fairness of the review process are two separate problems that must be addressed.

The need for reform of the existing system has been perceived for some time. At a 1994 meeting called to discuss administrative changes in the National Institutes of Health's peer-review process (D.M. Barnes, Journal of NIH Research, 6[10]:10,...

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