Document Type



Media Studies (Pomona)

Publication Date



Academic; Authority; Nature; Peer review; Publishing; Science


Over the last several months, as I've met with the folks from if:book and with the quite impressive group of academics we pulled together to discuss the possibility of starting an all-electronic scholarly press, I've spent an awful lot of time thinking and talking about peer review-how it currently functions, why we need it, and how it might be improved. Peer review is extremely important-I want to acknowledge that right up front-but it threatens to become the axle around which all conversations about the future of publishing get wrapped, like Isadora Duncan's scarf, strangling any possible innovations in scholarly communication before they can get launched. In order to move forward with any kind of innovative publishing process, we must solve the peer review problem, but in order to do so, we first have to separate the structure of peer review from the purposes it serves-and we need to be a bit brutally honest with ourselves about those purposes, distinguishing between those purposes we'd ideally like peer review to serve and those functions it actually winds up fulfilling.


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© 2006 Kathleen Fitzpatrick

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