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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Policies, practices, and potentials for computer-supported scholarly peer review Nobarany, Syavash


The scholarly peer-review process has been one of the cornerstones of science for centuries, but it has also been the subject of criticism for decades. The peer-review process is increasingly supported by computer systems; however, computer support for peer review has been mostly limited to facilitating traditional peer-review processes and remedying scalability issues. We took a holistic approach to understanding the peer-review process with the goal of devising computer-supported interactions, mechanisms, and processes for improving peer review. We conducted a series of studies to investigate various aspects of the peer-review process, including procedural fairness, anonymity and transparency, reviewing motivations, politeness of reviews, and opinion measurement. In the study of fairness, we learned about researchers’ attitudes and concerns about the fairness of the peer-review process. In the study of anonymity and transparency, we learned about the diversity of anonymity policies used by various publication venues. In the study of reviewing motivations, we learned the many reasons reviewers consider reviewing as part of their academic activities and what makes a review request more likely to be accepted. In the study of the use of politeness strategies, we learned about reviewers’ use of language for mitigating criticisms in a non-blind reviewing environment. In the study of opinion measurement we iteratively designed opinion measurement interfaces that can enhance elicitation of quantitative subjective opinions. Through these five studies, we expanded the understanding of challenges and opportunities for designing better peer-review processes and systems to support them, and we presented various ways through which computer support for peer review can be enhanced to address the identified challenges.

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