Why PRE and why now?
PRE was created to safeguard and improve the integrity of scholarly peer review.
Peer review is at the heart of scholarly communication. Funding agencies use it to evaluate grant proposals, journals use it to determine what articles make it into the literature, and researchers consider the rigor of peer review when deciding which papers to rely upon for their work.
In a recent survey of 4,000 researchers across various STM and social science disciplines, 84% believe that “without peer review, there is no control in scientific information” (Mulligan, 137). Another found that ‘peer review remains the central pillar of trust’ in scholarly communication (Nicholas, 13).
Though most researchers support the principle of peer review, there are growing questions about its application in 21st century scholarship.
A 2015 study of researcher attitudes found a surprising reality gap between what researchers think peer review should do and the state of the current practice (Taylor & Francis Group, 9). Only a third of researchers surveyed believe the current system is the best that can be achieved and most feel it is in need of improvement (Mulligan 137). Several studies have called into question the efficacy and fairness of peer review (Jefferson 2007; Wager, 262; Fang 2012) and recent high profile failings of the process have led to claims that ‘peer review is broken’ (Wired 2014) and inspired several new, and largely untested, methods of peer review. (RIN, 15 and 19)
Fortunately, researchers are less pessimistic about the future of peer review with most advocating for improvements to the current system by encouraging more transparency and expanding peer review research and training. (Warne, 46; Patel, 6).
The PRE Program, backed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) was created to address these needs.