Is Peer Review Broken?

FEATUREIs Peer Review Broken? Submissions are up, reviewers are overtaxed, and authors are lodging complaint after complaint about the process at top-tier journals. What's wrong with peer review? BY ALISON MCCOOK Peter Lawrence, a developmental biologist who is also an editor at the journal Development and former editorial board member at Cell, has been publishing papers in academic journals for 40 years. His f

Alison McCook
Jan 31, 2006
FEATURE
Is Peer Review Broken?
Is Peer Review Broken?

Submissions are up, reviewers are overtaxed, and authors are lodging complaint after complaint about the process at top-tier journals. What's wrong with peer review?

Peter Lawrence, a developmental biologist who is also an editor at the journal Development and former editorial board member at Cell, has been publishing papers in academic journals for 40 years. His first 70 or so papers were "never rejected," he says, but that's all changed. Now, he has significantly more trouble getting articles into the first journal he submits them to.

"The rising [rejections] means an increase in angry authors."
-Drummond Rennie

Lawrence, based at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge, UK, says his earlier papers were always published because he and his colleagues first submitted them to the journals they believed were most appropriate for the work. Now, because of the intense pressure...