Some alternative thinking on peer review

A few years back I recommended an NIHR report for pool-side summer reading. Ever since I have been inundated with requests to make similar recommendations each year. A little like Greta Garbo I have refused.

But not this year.

RAND Europe – who are a little like the McKinsey of research proffering consultancy and advice to everyone from the Department of Health and Wellcome Trust to smaller funders as well – brought out a rather interesting and curious report this past week entitled: ‘Alternatives to Peer Review in Research Project Funding.’

Interesting, because finding effective and efficient alternatives to peer review is often on the funders’ mind. Curious, because the report focuses on different ‘mechanisms’ and it is not clear to me that some of them fulfil what I have always understood the intentions of peer review to be about – namely the quality of the science.

I wondered also when reading it whether it is perhaps not alternative mechanisms we should always be looking for as opposed to additional participants such as patients and the public. That is why I was perhaps drawn to the ‘sand pit’ idea in there. I’ll let you read it and find out for yourself what that involves.

I shall add to this later today so you have something to read over the beach barbecue.

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