An interesting article by Janne Hukkinen in Wired has introduced me to a new concept, peer review conducted by artificial intelligence!
The article argues it is risky business, and I agree. While it can streamline the process and lead to faster publishing, I seriously doubt an algorithm could review a paper to the same quality as a human expert. Nuances would be missed. As the author states it would fail to consider values, “such as ranking two scientifically equal texts on the basis of their social relevance”. Hukkinen also tells a story akin to Hal in 2001: a Space Odyssey, where a rogue program sent “terse letters” without the knowledge of the company.
Clearly there is space for computer assistance, searching for plagiarism and obvious errors for one. It can immediately discount some manuscripts based on particular criteria. But peer review done solely by AI? I am sceptical. Of course, I suppose people are sceptical of every new technological development. Perhaps in the future it will simply be accepted as the norm.
The article poses some interesting questions for the future of publishing and science, and is well worth a read. The possibilities really are endless…
The author of the list, Jeffrey Beall, has come out with an article titled What I learned from predatory publishers, which provides “a first-hand account of the author’s work identifying and listing predatory publishers from 2012 to 2017.” This article provides some interesting insights into predatory publishing, and also suggests why Beall felt it necessary to remove the list – he was under “intense pressure” from his employer and feared losing his job.
Many Information Professionals are probably very well aware of this issue. However it is so important that I feel compelled to share this New York Times article (above) despite the fact I may only be repeating some well known facts.
In a nutshell, these ‘publishers’ exploit the fact that academics rely on publishing their work to further their careers (known as the “publish or perish” system of professional advancement). While the conferences and journals may appear respectable, in the end they are fraudulent, usually scam money out of unsuspecting academics and pump out worthless articles.
A little while ago I attended a very interesting seminar on balancing teaching and learning in the library field with the conducting and publishing of research.
It was a topic that I, as a relatively new librarian, had not thought much about. I’m glad that I now have this concept at the back of my mind while doing my everyday work.
The basic premise of the seminar was that we rely a lot on anecdotal evidence and many times fail to communicate our worth to those who fund us or decide our futures. By utilising an Evidence Based Practice model, we can innovate and build new capabilities. By sharing knowledge across libraries, we can grow our evidence base – improving our knowledge of where we are providing value, and what we contribute. Many librarians contribute a vast amount to the field and develop fantastic projects, but the next step is writing this up, publishing and sharing this knowledge.