Renovating the Review Process
Updated: Mar 24, 2021
Traditional Processing of Peer Review
The traditional "batch processing" of peer review is inefficient and causes unnecessary lag in the review process.
This is how it currently works (broadly speaking):
An editor sends out a lengthy word doc or PDF to the reviewers that have agreed to volunteer their review services
Each reviewer then creates a textually bulky word document or email containing a summary, some points that need addressing, and a publication or procedural recommendation
Then, the editor condenses the individual reviews into a single bulky document and passes it along to the authors, who then, in turn, create another bulky document in response and send it... you get the picture.
This coarse-grained staging of information exchange between the authors and the reviewers creates an avoidable choke-point where some readily-addressable review requests are forced to stay along for the ride as extra workload baggage before they can be addressed.
As an example, imagine a submitted manuscript contains both a computational component and an experimental component and the reviewers have flagged issues in both areas. Let's say the computational review request might be addressable by the authors within 2 weeks of being obviated by the reviewers while the experimental review request takes 3 months. Now, imagine that the review response of the computational request wasn't as simple as the authors first thought and takes an additional 2 months fine-tuning based off the new feedback the reviewers provided.
In batch processing, there is no way to push these requests forward in the process at their own pace. To complete this exampled round of revision, it would take a total of 3+2 months (assuming no further work is required on the experimental request). If these requests were addressed in parallel, the length of this process could be shaved down to 3 months.
Introducing MAPR (Multithread Asynchronous Peer Review)
Wouldn't it be nice to exchange review requests and responses the moment they are addressed? The peer review process is already stressful and both parties are experiencing sever burnout. How would the mental health of both reviewers and authors be affected if they could 'check-off' requests as soon as you can rather than waiting for the rate limiting request to be addressed?
We've discretized the review process so that that each review request is independently addressable in its own time.
Not only do we directly enable parallel addressing of review requests, but we also have the effect of spreading out the workload of both the authors and reviewers over time. Now you don't have to dedicate chunks of 3+ hours to continue the review process. On our platform, you'll be notified as soon as your attention is needed and you can manage your time as you see fit.
We've taken note of the value of that analogous task managers have provided society and have implemented useful features, such as review request dependencies, tags, priority flags, in-line commenting, similarity scores, etc. The rest of the world's productivity has been upgraded... let's catch up.
Tyler Quarton, PhD
Founder & CEO Atlas Open Science, Inc.
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