Safeguarding peer review to ensure quality at scale (Frontiers in Publishing)


Safeguarding peer review to ensure quality at scale (Frontiers in Publishing)

In the context of climate emergency, making scientific research open has never been more important. But for research to be trusted, it must be of the highest quality. Facing an industry-wide rise in fraudulent science, Frontiers has increased its focus on safeguarding quality.

As the conversations at COP28 in 2023 highlighted again, we are in a race against time as we approach a climate tipping point leading to catastrophic consequences for our world.

At Frontiers we believe that a diverse range of scientific solutions is imperative, and that making science open is the most efficient and cost-effective way to achieve a sustainable and healthy planet. That’s why we continue driving the transition to making all of science openly available.

But the open access model has faced criticism from some quarters, suggesting it delivers articles of lower quality compared to the restricted access model, primarily due to perceived financial conflicts arising from its reliance on article publishing charges.

While it's true that open access publishers depend on these charges, it's essential to recognize that this viewpoint often stems from an inherent bias against open access, overshadowing a more scientific and ethically sound analysis.

In the broad context, open access — by championing transparency and accessibility — inherently bolsters the speed, quality, and reliability of scientific research. By making articles, methodologies, and results publicly accessible, open access paves the way for rapid falsification and verification of hypotheses. This means that scientists can quickly test, challenge, expand upon, and innovate beyond existing work, fostering an efficient feedback loop, minimizing redundant efforts, and speeding up both error discovery and result validation. Such a model amplifies the return on investment for stakeholders like universities, funders, and governments.

From a financial perspective, the idea that open access publishers compromise article quality for monetary gains is short-sighted. Diluting standards or taking shortcuts in peer review erodes trust in the publisher, prompting authors to seek an alternative. Short-term financial gains from such practices cannot therefore sustain a genuine open access publisher (or any publisher for that matter) in the long run.

For open science to become the default, it is not sufficient for open access publishers to publish just a few select articles. They must be able to process high quality articles at scale to get even close to the millions of articles published by subscription-based publishers and drive the transition to full open access to science. At Frontiers, we call this challenge ’quality at scale.’

Access here: Frontiers in Publishing Science News