Who Should Conduct Research Assessment and Peer Review?

Who Should Conduct Research Assessment and Peer Review? 1024 667 Open and Universal Science (OPUS) Project

Research assessment and peer review play a crucial role in maintaining the quality and integrity of scientific and scholarly work. They help ensure that published research is reliable, accurate, and contributes meaningfully to the body of knowledge. However, the question of who should conduct research assessment and peer review is a topic of ongoing debate in the academic and scientific communities. In this article, we will explore the different perspectives on this issue and consider the strengths and weaknesses of various approaches.

  1. Peers from the Same Discipline

One common approach to peer review is to have experts from the same academic or scientific discipline assess and review research papers. This approach is grounded in the belief that individuals with subject-specific expertise are best equipped to evaluate the merits and contributions of a piece of research. Researchers often argue that peers from within their field possess the requisite knowledge and familiarity with the existing literature to provide constructive feedback.


  • Subject-specific expertise ensures a deep understanding of the research.
  • Peers are likely to be aware of recent developments and trends in the field.
  • Researchers tend to trust assessments from colleagues with similar expertise.


  • Potential for bias or conflicts of interest within the same discipline.
  • Limited diversity of perspectives, which may stifle innovative thinking.
  • The narrow focus on subject-specific expertise may overlook interdisciplinary contributions.
  1. Interdisciplinary Panels

In contrast to discipline-specific peer review, some argue for the inclusion of interdisciplinary panels in the assessment process. These panels consist of experts from different fields who evaluate research papers from a holistic perspective. The idea is that such an approach can promote cross-pollination of ideas and encourage innovative thinking.


  • Reduces the risk of narrow, discipline-specific bias.
  • Encourages interdisciplinary research and collaboration.
  • Can provide a more comprehensive evaluation of the research’s broader impact.


  • May lack the depth of subject-specific expertise.
  • Coordination and communication challenges among panel members.
  • Potential for misalignment of evaluation criteria between disciplines.
  1. Public Peer Review

A more recent development in the realm of research assessment is the concept of public peer review. In this model, research papers are made publicly available for review by anyone interested, not just experts in the field. Proponents argue that this approach promotes transparency and inclusivity, allowing a wider range of voices to contribute to the evaluation process.


  • Increases transparency and openness in the research assessment process.
  • Encourages engagement from a diverse set of stakeholders.
  • Reduces the risk of biases present in traditional peer review.


  • Potential for uninformed or biased opinions to influence the assessment.
  • May create a burden on researchers to respond to a high volume of feedback.
  • Concerns about privacy and misuse of public reviews.
  1. Institutional and Journal Responsibility

In addition to peer review, research assessment is often conducted by institutions, funding agencies, and journals. These entities may employ experts or use metrics and indicators to evaluate the quality and impact of research. This approach can provide a more comprehensive picture of a researcher’s contributions beyond individual papers.


  • Provides a broader perspective on a researcher’s body of work.
  • Can help identify research trends and areas of impact.
  • May be less susceptible to individual biases.


  • Metrics-based assessments may oversimplify a researcher’s impact.
  • May not capture the nuances and quality of individual research papers.
  • Potential for undue pressure on researchers to publish in high-impact journals.


The question of who should conduct research assessment and peer review is a complex one with no one-size-fits-all answer. Each approach has its strengths and weaknesses, and the most appropriate method may vary depending on the context and goals of the assessment. Ultimately, a combination of approaches, including peer review by subject experts, interdisciplinary input, public engagement, and institutional evaluation, may provide the most comprehensive and fair assessment of research quality and impact. Regardless of the method chosen, the key is to prioritize transparency, integrity, and a commitment to maintaining the highest standards of research excellence.

Photo via Allea

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