What does PubPeer need?

Apparently, PubPeer needs legitimacy, accountability and better moderation of comments… and an Editorial Board is going to fulfill all these needs. The debate takes place here.

One proponent of an Editorial Board is Niklaus J. Grünwald, a plant biologist who serves as a senior editor of several journals. At PubPeer, he writes:

In my mind having an editorial board provides legitimacy and accountability to the process of running PubPeer. […]

The legitimacy of PubPeer comes from the communities of scientists that embrace it, not from an Editorial Board. There is maybe still a concern among some scientists about the legitimacy of open post publication peer review per se. I would suggest a manifesto for post publication peer review that state our support for open discussion of science, welcome criticism of our published work, and commit to engage in discussions whenever appropriate. Such a manifesto, if signed by enough (of the right) people might contribute to the much required culture change.

Also in support of an Editorial board, albeit for different reasons is Physical Chemist Francois-Xavier Coudert. He, and a few others including Philip Moriarty, emphasize the need for moderation of comments. François-Xavier starts his comment by arguing that since there is moderation taking place at PubPeer, there is in fact already an (anonymous) editorial board. Moderation of comments is a challenge that PubPeer faces: there is room for progress on how discussions are organised and moderated. It is a real challenge to combine quality discussion with respect for full anonymity (as we have experienced again recently in the stripy controversy), but an Editorial Board will not solve that problem. The current discussion explores a number of interesting models that involve modern communication technologies empowered community efforts, see the comment of Peer 9 who refers us to Slashdot and the comment of Sylvain Bernès who highlights http://stackexchange.com/ (also mentioned by François-Xavier) and http://mathoverflow.net/. Maybe, rather than an editorial board, we just need another Topic at PubPeer to explore these ideas?

 

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