Dose peer reviews really fit into this era? I have been a reviewer for few times and recently such idea come into my minds. My answer would be NO.
Almost all of the studies are from N to N+1 instead of 0 to 1. That’s why we need peer reviews to strength new findings and hypothesis. However, peer reviews actually happens everyday before and after the paper get published. Most of the research group would have some kinds of journal talk or literature reading to introduce new study for other group members or train the skills for presentation. As a critical readers, every time I could hear some drawbacks in published papers. To be honest, I don’t think reviewers could cover everything and such critical post-published comments only exists within research group. No feedback, no follow-up. This wasted a lot of efforts.
Peer reviews actually block the academia communication in an inefficient way. The popular of pre-prints servers have shown that the critical review could happen before get published and studies could also gain influences without journal based peer-review. Generally, the credits of one paper are always independent of the journal and depend the inner insights of the authors, contributions to certain discipline and the follow-up studies. If the peer reviews could only gain the accumulated impact factors on one’s CV instead of the citations, such methods might need alter way to reflect the importance of their studies.
Citation or follow up relationship might be a natural way for development in academia. The development of certain theory could always be summarized by a timeline with some brunches. Why not journals? For each journal, we could build a follow-up relationship based on the co-relationship among the papers. The base paper could be a textbook and all of the papers are some kinds of the brunches of certain book section. No need to get published with traditional peer review. Authors just need to select the right chapter or the following paper under that topic, put their paper under the very last paper they agree all the augments and wait for the follow-up. Only the positive feedback could be the follow-up, otherwise a brunch might appears. Other studies just need to choose the papers they like to vote up to follow up, so actually we could get enough high-quality reviewers for each studies. All of the efforts on one work could get paid and credits by their readers.
Such knowledge structure could be pruned by peers’ comments and only the one with the most of the follow-up studies could become the mainstream. Such journal would be easy for the graduates and undergraduates to find the newest viewpoints instead of get buried by tons of papers and chaos reviews.
One paper could follow up different topics. If some topics have few people to work on, they might not gain credits by peers while gain credits by following up another textbook in other disciplines. It would be easy for researchers to make cross-discipline studies and invade or develop new research topics.
Actually, open source software always fit this no peer review scheme. Platform like CRAN only check the technique details and code quality and only the packages with real interesting or useful functions could be popular and get credits. Still one could gain credits for only one package instead of a list of packages with no users. Also the one submit issues or bug report could get some credits by a update or follow-up of that software. I mean, such idea works well in open source software development, why not use this way to build a follow-up style journal.
All we need are a server to host all of the studies and researchers would build the journal themselves like Wikipedia. However, we might find too much brunches under certain topics than Wikipedia and that’s the fun of research, isn’t it?