Judging Science: Prague conference to address future of peer review

Peer review - subjecting scientific research to expert scrutiny - is the only acceptable method to adequately judge the rigour and accuracy of the research. Recently, however the approach has come under fire as a series of high-profile scientific misconduct have exposed its many flaws.

The increasing numbers of interdisciplinary research fields and the ever-changing publishing industry have also called for the process to be more developed and rigorously controlled.

To address all of these challenges and ensure that high-quality research continues to be properly funded and published, the European Science Foundation (ESF) has joined the European Heads of Research Councils (EuroHORCs) and the Czech Science Foundation (Grantov agentura esk republiky, GA R) to host an international conference on peer review, which will be held in Prague on October 12-13, 2006.

With contributions from representatives of European research centres, national and international funding agencies, the new European Research Council (ERC) and the major scientific publications Nature and Science, the conference will address three fundamental questions:

  • Is the peer-review process in the present form able to identify the best frontier science and how to improve it?
  • What is the best way to harmonise the peer-review process and how can new methods and IT tools contribute?
  • What are the major societal, cultural and ethical challenges of the future of the peer-review process and how could they be incorporated?

"We are at a critical point for determining the future of peer review,' said Josef Syka, president of GA R. "Open-access publication and electronic publishing are both growing areas which have huge implications for the process. We need to deal with ethical issues and security whilst also maintaining and improving efficiency.

"We need to look towards the future to determine if we stay with peer review

Contact: Thomas Lau
European Science Foundation

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