Can Social Networking Replace Academic Peer Review?
Peer review is one of the essential cornerstones of scholarly publication. Smart people with a vested interest in propagating correct knowledge get together and read and critique and fix what has been written for shared academic reasoning and publication. The danger in peer review is that people tend to bring their own agendas and prejudices to the process and they can change and mold and even censor what has been researched and written to fit their own niche or to even destroy a new way of thinking that damages their self-believed right that what they know is only what other people should know.
Can social media enhance the idea of peer review while also protecting the integrity of the vetting process? Or is social media too feral and febrile right now to be corralled and conquered into providing proper feedback and referencing?
Here’s an interesting tidbit from the Social Media Report:
Researchers are using social media tools to support every phase of the research lifecycle: from identifying research opportunities to disseminating findings at the end. They may not be the same tools, and they are certainly not the same researchers, but social media are most definitely making an impact on scholarly workflow.
The most popular tools used in a professional research context tend to be mainstream anchor technologies or `household brands’, like Skype, Google Docs, Twitter and YouTube. Researchers seem to be largely appropriating generic tools rather than using specialist or custom-built solutions and both publishers and librarians need to adapt to this reality. Is this a sign, perhaps, that there may be a gap in the market for simple bespoke tools?
If scholarly researchers are using social media tools to enhance and confirm their arguments and rationales, does it make sense for those researchers to turn around and offer their conclusions and findings back into the turbid social media morass for criticism and conflation?
Or do we first need more safeguards in the social media process like verifiable user identities and other local totems that press facts into the flesh and give meaning and substance to what one offers to the process beyond the flinging of wild fascinations into the wind like misbegotten breadcrumbs that deserve nothing more than their collection into a dumpster?