February 17, 2012
What follows is an extended comment on the proposal of pre-print peer review by Sabine Hossenfelder.
She suggests, inter alia, that the authors pay a submission fee for each paper and the referees get awards for their reports. But is the fees-related part of the proposal necessary at all? Perhaps the universities could donate some funds (as they already do for the arXiv) to get the thing going, and major professional societies (APS, AMS, etc.) could chime in too (and the authors can donate on a purely voluntary basis). To replace the awards for refereeing and the author fees one could use some kind of “points” (pretty much like the reputation points on the stackexchange sites): submission of the first paper is free, and the next ones are “paid” by the points obtained from refereeing. There could be some points gained for any report and extra points if the author(s) like the report (and express this by marking it as “favorite”).
UPDATE: another interesting and very detailed proposal on an alternative peer review model is Open Peer Review by a Selected-Papers Network by Chris Lee.
February 12, 2012
It all began with the blog post Elsevier — my part in its downfall by the Fields medalist Timothy Gowers which has caused quite a stir and culminated in the creation of the web site thecostofknowledge.com with an online petition to boycott the Elsevier publishing house (see also this recent post by the Fields medalist Terence Tao).
What is more, the ongoing discussions on the future of math journals, see e.g. [1 2 3 4 5], have now got quite a momentum. The physicists have also launched a similar incentive SCOAP3, and there is a proposal for pre-print peer review by Sabine Hossenfelder.
It is apparent that we need to improve many aspects of the existing publishing system, and the forthcoming change will hopefully also affect the peer review (see e.g. here), and I would like to stress here one aspect of this change which remains somewhat implicit at the background of the ongoing discussions. The suggested versions of Peer Review 2.0 appear to agree in one thing: we need the reduction of subjective bias of the worst sort (culminating in the referee reports essentially saying nothing but “I think this paper is not good enough for this journal”), and I do hope that we, the science community, can bring at least this particular change forth.