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Honestly, as an assistant professor going up for tenure now looking at what happened in the last 6 years, I feel like paying reviewers is quite just. I don’t make the comfortable living that full professors make, and the hours I spend reviewing papers comes potentially at the cost of writing grants, doing research, publishing my own papers, etc. that would over time quite likely paid more of my summer salary. If senior professors who are living comfortably would rather get other perks/benefits/recognitions, than so be it, but right now I am at the point where I feel like reviewing papers have robbed me in a small, but real way, of too much time that has come at some personal financial cost.
PLOS One and scientifically robust don’t really go together, based on my experience. But that is a more general problem, as I recently came across 2-3 articles in Nature Comms, where authors, with vested interests, were presenting research/results convenient to the companies with which they have ties. The whole system is ridden with flaws.
I believe the solution is relatively simple. National agencies overseeing scientific research should create a space to allow for anyone “anonymously” or not (pending registration using institutional emails or credit cards , and other safeguards, to avoid hidden wars and paid for/self reviews) to judge and score posted articles according to a number of metrics such as scientific merit, experimental robustness, reproducibility, etc. This system would enable tens, hundreds, thousands of true reviews from qualified peers working in the same field. Such system would result in robust scores, weighted over a large number of reviewers that would be doing that for free as reviewing literature is part of their daily job anyway. That would also give to funding and research institutions a more objective and fair tool to evaluate research proposals and hiring candidates
How does one stop pal review? How can you stop journal editors assigning sympathetic reviewers to their favoured ideas / authors?
PS: By ‘sympathetic reviewers’ I mean those who will rubber stamp the review.