about piezoceramics & academia in Norway
Reviewing manuscripts ( and grant applications ) is an interesting, voluntary and time-consuming task conducted by pretty much all academics and sometimes already by PhD students. There has been and there still is a lot of debate about the pros and cons of this process. Scandals of fake or fraud research published after going through peer review continuously raise the question about the usefulness and effectiveness of the process. The blog Retraction Watch gives impressive insight into this topic. Pre-print projects, like arXiv, are continuously growing, reflecting not only the need for openly available research reports, but offer an alternative to the traditional publisher/editor determined research dissemination process. Some projects try to start even earlier and make the whole scientific process openly shared and as such peer reviewed: from developing first ideas over grant application writing to paper publication. And the number of online tools available, e.g. for commenting and annotating web content, enables this trend to share research ideas and discuss them openly. Nature (talking about traditional publishers) published a broad range of articles on this topic in 2006 and the science blogosphere is full of posts discussing various aspects of peer review/open access/…: here and here and here and here and in many other places.
While this very necessary debate and development is ongoing, the average academic still contributes his/her share to the traditional peer review process. So do I. Currently, I review about one paper per month. I need between a couple of hours to a day for each manuscript depending on length, content complexity and how easy the authors make it to follow their thoughts. The shortest review I wrote in 2016 so far had about 450 words, the longest 1350 – which maybe means I have to work on my German tendency to make way too long and detailed sentences. Usually there is no reward in this other than the process itself, being able to get a look at the very fresh research of other groups and maybe discover a new potential collaborator. And sometimes one gets a letter with a shiny certificate on top of that. In the current case, there was even some funding for my local coffee and chocolate cake places enclosed, which I’m happy to spend there to enhance my research activities.