Shrager J (2010) The Promise and Perils of Pre-Publication Review: A Multi-Agent Simulation of Biomedical Discovery Under Varying Levels of Review Stringency. PLoS ONE 5(5): e10782. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0010782
The Internet has enabled profound changes in the way science is
performed, especially in scientific communications. Among the most
important of these changes is the possibility of new models for
pre-publication review, ranging from the current, relatively strict
peer-review model, to entirely unreviewed, instant self-publication.
Different models may affect scientific progress by altering both the
quality and quantity of papers available to the research community. To
test how models affect the community, I used a multi-agent simulation of
treatment selection and outcome in a patient population to examine how
various levels of pre-publication review might affect the rate of
scientific progress. I identified a “sweet spot” between the points of
very limited and very strict requirements for pre-publication review.
The model also produced a u-shaped curve where very limited review
requirement was slightly superior to a moderate level of requirement,
but not as large as the aforementioned sweet spot. This unexpected
phenomenon appears to result from the community taking longer to
discover the correct treatment with more strict pre-publication review.
In the parameter regimens I explored, both completely unreviewed and
very strictly reviewed scientific communication seems likely to hinder
scientific progress. Much more investigation is warranted. Multi-agent
simulations can help to shed light on complex questions of scientific
communication and exhibit interesting, unexpected behaviors.
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