Peer Review: Objectivity, Anonymity, Trust

05/10/2020 ∙ by Daniel Ucko, et al. ∙ 0

This dissertation is focused on the role of objectivity in peer review. Through an examination of aspects of peer review including anonymity, trust, expertise, and the question of who has standing to evaluate research, we find that objectivity in peer review differs significantly from other uses of the term objectivity in science. In peer review it is not required for this objectivity to have correspondence to an outside world, instead it is enough for it to operate inside the "rules" of the community. Neither is the objectivity here empirical in the sense of using data about the scientific problem in question. Rather, the objectivity is one of judgment, cleaving to the epistemological standards of a community that are formed by background assumptions and beliefs. As a consequence, we highlight the role of subjectivity in what is usually taken as a practice of objectivity, and arrive at the insight that objectivity is not defined by one core value, but a balance of transparency, confidentiality, trust, representation, and living up to community standards. As such, objectivity in peer review is a highly specific sense of the term that is not reducible to that used in other aspects of scientific practice.

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