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clinmed/2000010010v1 (March 21, 2000)
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Peer review in a post-eprints world

James E. Till

The establishment of the Clinical Medicine NetPrints website marks an extension to clinical medicine of a novel experiment in scientific publishing without peer review. How will NetPrints be evaluated? Previous studies of variations in rejection rates after conventional peer review have indicated that the extent of scholarly consensus is an important variable. This variable is likely also to be important in readers' evaluations of preprints. A combination of readers' comments and commissioned review might yield articles of higher quality than either could accomplish alone. However, if applied to all NetPrints, such a process would be time-consuming and labour-intensive. A sequential review process is proposed, beginning with the publication of NetPrints, followed by revision on the basis of comments by readers, followed in turn by the solicitation of selected preprints for commissioned review. This sequential process could have advantages, both for the authors of articles, and for journal editors. Some issues about evaluative studies of the outcomes of preprint publication are also considered briefly. It would be particularly useful if every preprint archive included access to comparative statistics on visits by readers to individual preprints.


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James E. Till
ClinMed NetPrints, 11 Jan 2002 [Full text]



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