Universiteit Leiden

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CWTS Seminar

Peer-review procedures as practice, decision, and governance—the road to theories of peer review

  • Martin Reinhart and Cornelia Schendzielorz
Friday 31 May 2024
Willem Einthoven
Kolffpad 1
2333 BN Leiden
CWTS - Common Room

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Peer review is an ubiquitous feature of science with three interrelated roles: first, as a mechanism to assess quality through expert judgement (process); second, to decide on the distribution of scarce resources, e.g. publication space (outcome); and, third, to self-govern science (context). This is poorly reflected in public and academic debates, where attention is focused on alleged deficits. Moving beyond a ‘deficit model’, we, first, divide the peer-review process into eight different practices, which, in combination, can make up a wide variety of peer-review procedures. Second, we claim that peer review not only provides evaluative decisions, but, more importantly, also provides the legitimacy for these decisions. Thus, an encompassing theoretical view of peer review should integrate process, outcome, and context. Such a view could start by theorizing peer review as a form of government, not unlike democracy, grown historically around concerns for legibility, responsibility, and responsiveness akin to the Mertonian norms.


Martin Reinhart, Robert K. Merton Center for Science Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Cornelia Schendzielorz, Robert K. Merton Center for Science Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Mastodon: @MartinReinhart@openbiblio.social 

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