The Air We Breathe: A Critical Look at Practices and Alternatives in the Peer-Review Process

Document Type


Peer Reviewed


Publication Date


NLM Title Abbreviation

Perspect Psychol Sci

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Perspectives on Psychological Science

DOI of Published Version



Anonymous peer review has served as the bedrock of research dissemination in scientific psychology for decades and has only sporadically been questioned. However, other disciplines, such as biomedicine and physics, have found the traditional peer-review system to be wanting and have begun to test and try alternative practices. In this article, we survey criticisms of the traditional peer-review system and describe several alternatives in the interests of facilitating discussion and debate. We also consider why the natural sciences tend to employ fewer reviewers and have lower rejection rates than do the social sciences. Our two recommendations are that a serious discussion of problems and alternatives to peer review should be started at all levels of psychology and that a science of research communication should be a priority, with psychologists as part of its advance guard because of their relevant substantive and methodological knowledge.

Published Article/Book Citation

Perspectives on Psychological Science, 4:1 (2009) pp.40-50. DOI:doi: 10.1111/j.1745-6924.2009.01105.x.

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