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Peer review under the microscope

Sociologist Flaminio Squazzoni has dedicated his career to an understudied community: scientists. To understand what makes them tick, he plans to recruit colleagues from Università Statale di Milano as guinea pigs. He tells Fabio Turone about his groundbreaking study of peer review.

The peer-review system is struggling. Researchers are under huge pressure to publish to further their careers. Journals receive a deluge of papers, while struggling to find academics willing to spare the time for peer review. Open access laps away at the business side of the game. What does all this do to researchers?

In Italy, sociologist Flaminio Squazzoni has made it his mission to find an answer to this question. In December 2018, Squazzoni received €3 million from Italy’s research ministry to set up BEHAVE, a laboratory at the Università Statale di Milano, where he will study peer review. The laboratory is expected to open in March. In an interview with Research Professional, Squazzoni explains that the research group will use a computer simulation of peer review to study the behaviour of scientists.  “We will use agent-based computational simulations, and we will do our best to reproduce the peer-review process in our laboratory,” he says.

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