Written evidence submitted by the British
Psychological Society (PR 87)|
The British Psychological Society thanks the Select
Committee for the opportunity to respond to this inquiry.
The British Psychological Society ("the Society"),
incorporated by Royal Charter, is the learned and professional
body for psychologists in the United Kingdom. The Society has
a total membership of approximately 50,000 and is a registered
Under its Royal Charter, the objective of the Society
is "to promote the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge
of psychology pure and applied and especially to promote the efficiency
and usefulness of members by setting up a high standard of professional
education and knowledge".
The Society is committed to providing and disseminating
evidence-based expertise and advice, engaging with policy and
decision makers, and promoting the highest standards in learning
and teaching, professional practice and research. The Society
is an examining body granting certificates and diplomas in specialist
areas of professional applied psychology.
This response was prepared on behalf of the Society
by the Research Board. We hope you find our comments useful.
Prof J A Ellis Cpsychol
Chair, Research Board
1. THE STRENGTHS
1.1 The main strengths of peer review lie in
its usage of experts to evaluate the quality of research; the
use of individuals who are most familiar with existing literature
and appropriate standards of rigor.
1.2 This provides a guarantee of the validity
and scientific warrant of the knowledge produced with public funds
and placed in the public domain.
1.3 The main weaknesses of peer review arise
if a double-blind review procedure is not adopted. Editors and
reviewers can be subjective; favoritism or other biases may come
into play; and feedback may be unconstructive.
2. MEASURES TO
2.1 The use of on-line peer review together with
the adoption of a standard process across similar outlets, with
agreed panels and templates, might strengthen researchers' and
the public's confidence in the process.
3. THE VALUE
3.1 It ensures the quality of research and the use
of robust methodology via scrutiny from appropriate experts. Even
rejected research proposals can benefit from this process as,
for example, weak arguments can be strengthened as a result of
4. THE VALUE
4.1 There should be greater quality assurance associated
with peer reviewed science. However, the media often misinterprets
findings and researchers need to be more aware of how research
may be (mis)interpreted by both the media and the public.
5. THE EXTENT
5.1 There is a considerable degree of variation between
countries across the world; especially in the usage of double-blind
6. THE PROCESSES
6.1 There is considerable variation in the processes
by which appropriate reviewers are identified - senior figures,
databases/pools/colleges of experts, on-line search engines (Google,
7. THE IMPACT
OF IT AND
7.1 The speed and efficiency of the peer review process
has been significantly increased as a result of increased IT and
on-line resources. On-line submission and review have also greatly
reduced associated costs; as well as significantly increasing
the "pool" of potential international reviewers.
8. POSSIBLE ALTERNATIVES
8.1. We believe that high quality but more transparent
peer review remains the best option for the assessment of UK scientific
British Psychological Society
15 March 2011