Since the latter half of the twentieth century, pre-publication peer review has become ubiquitous and de rigueur for journal publishing in the sciences. Pre- publication peer review, in all of its manifestations, delays scientific communication, as the process of review takes time, yet it does not offer much of a credible filter for veracity, accuracy, or quality of the articles published, as little is known about how well these qualities compare to those of un-peer-reviewed, i.e. unfiltered articles. There is nothing wrong with peer review itself, of course. In fact, some form of on-going review by fellow scientists, peers, is a feature that defines the very nature of the scientific discourse.
However, there is little need – especially in the online publishing environment of today, with its much more modest volume-dependent costs than print – for pre- publication peer review as a way to prevent publication of unworthy or irrelevant manuscripts (and so limit costs). This is particularly the case since most manuscripts are eventually published anyway, even after several rounds of being rejected, as they go down the ‘cascade’ of the journal ranks.
Therefore, so-called ‘preprint’ publication (publication before peer review has taken place) deserves to be propagated and widely accepted, as long as the means and incentives are simultaneously provided to have articles (preferably openly and not anonymously) peer reviewed once they have been made public, so that research results are made available without delay to whomever needs them. The articles may subsequently be published in a peer-reviewed journal, but that should be an option, an extra, if researchers or their employers so desire, and not a requirement for authors to be cited, make career advances, or be funded.
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