Crowdsourcing Peer Review

The peer review process, as most academics admit, is a slow process, with limited rewards for reviewers. With the advent of fast and easy digital publishing online, experiments with new forms of scholarly publishing abound. Sympoze, one of these experiments, is trying out the idea of crowd-sourced peer review.

Academics can sign up to be reviewers in their field and, after a vetting process, join a pool of reviewers for the site. When a paper is submitted in a reviewer’s field, they will be notified by email and may read the paper at their leisure, and recommend either acceptance or rejection. Reviewers can also add comments (anonymously) to a thread. Papers with a high acceptance rate will be published in a free, open access format on the Sympoze site, and will also be published in a more traditional print format. Papers with close acceptance and rejection scores will be returned for revision and resubmission. After review, authors will receive their scores and reviewers’ anonymous comments.

The reviewers pool for philosophy, the field of site founder Andrew Cullison, is nearly complete and Cullison, hopes to be in a position to accept submissions at the end of next year. Reviewers from any field are encouraged to sign up to become a reviewer or an adviser for their field, to help vet potential reviewers and shape that field’s review process.

This model might not turn the peer review process on its head entirely, but it certainly does streamline and modernize its application. If you decide to sign up as a reviewer for the site, we’re interested to hear what your experiences are once the project is up and running.


Author: Jessica Speer

As the Research Specialist at SSRC, Jessica edits re/search, consults with faculty, and conducts SSRC research projects. She is interested in questions of information management, preservation, communication, and dissemination.

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