Opening the Black-Box of Peer Review: An Agent-Based Model of Scientist Behaviour

Peer review is a cornerstone of science. The process allows scientists to experimentally pursue new lines of research through a continuous, decentralised and socially shared process of trial and error and ensures the quality of knowledge produced.  This paper investigates the impact of referee behaviour on the quality and efficiency of peer review. We focused on the importance of reciprocity motives in ensuring cooperation between all involved parties. We modelled peer review as a process based on knowledge asymmetries and subject to evaluation bias. We built various simulation scenarios in which we tested different interaction conditions and author and referee behaviour. We found that reciprocity cannot always have per se a positive effect on the quality of peer review, as it may tend to increase evaluation bias. It can have a positive effect only when reciprocity motives are inspired by disinterested standards of fairness.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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