The British Sociological Association (BSA) and the Council of Heads and Professors of Sociology welcome the Commons Science and Technology Committee's report on peer review.
We are pleased that it endorses the strengths of peer review in ensuring the quality of research and scholarship, and that it recognises that it takes place in a wider context of review and assessment that includes the review of research proposals and pre- and post-publication review. We welcome the idea that new technologies and new social media facilitate innovative practices of review, but that these should be thought of as complementary to, rather than replacements for, the main features of the current system.
We also welcome the recommendation that there should be training in undertaking peer review for PhD students and early- career researchers. For its part, the BSA provides training for new reviewers for its own journals. We endorse the committee's concern that journal impact factors should not be used as proxies for quality in the assessment of research excellence.
Finally, we strongly endorse the committee's concerns about the absence of a regulatory body to ensure research integrity, and we believe this is not a matter that should be left as the sole responsibility of employers because of the possible conflict between transparency and "corporate" interests.
Judith Burnett, chair, Council of the British Sociological Association; John Holmwood, chair, Council of Heads and Professors of Sociology