What strikes me about arguments in support of open peer review is that they are often premised on a utopian vision of our digital future and a dystopian view of our analog present. The utopianism is neither surprising nor problematic. Proponents of change are understandably enthusiastic. Once experiments are launched, some of this enthusiasm will be tempered by experience. There is every reason to expect these models to improve through trial and error.
I am concerned, though, about the extremely negative views of current peer review practices that seem to motivate the reform movement. There is no doubt that problems exist and that travesties occur. But I think it would be a mistake to design a new system on the basis of an exaggerated critique of the old one. I’m worried, in other words, that unless we recognize what’s valuable in our current practices, we will throw the baby out with the bathwater.
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