The peer pre-review (PPR) program is a service for faculty members at Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science (IQSS) solves problems in science, and science journalism, by improving scholarship before it becomes public, speeding scientific discovery and publication, and reducing substantial inefficiencies for individual researchers. PPR, which is available (for now) exclusively to IQSS faculty affiliates, attempts to provide the following two services for draft papers prior to them becoming public: (1) a detailed, constructive, anonymous peer review by a leading outside scholar incented to participate, with extremely fast turnaround (probably a few weeks), and (2) a full empirical replication by our internal team. While we experiment and refine the program, we are making this service available for now only to IQSS faculty affiliates, but ultimately hope to expand it to social scientists at other universities and research organizations.
A peer pre-review is similar to peer review for a scholarly journal, but faster, more complete, and constructive. Peer pre-reviewers are asked to read the entire paper and make constructive suggestions, wherever they think of something useful, throughout. The focus is not on whether the paper is appropriate for the particular journal, or whether it meets a particular standard, although publication suggestions are welcome, but rather on potential improvements.
Potential improvements can include some or all of the following:
Is the theory used in the paper appropriate to the research question and findings? Does is present an original idea? Is it plausible and interesting? Can it be improved?
Are the empirical methods implemented appropriately? Could they be improved or replaced with something better?
Have the paper’s weaknesses been clearly identified by the author (so peer reviewers can’t say “and the author didn’t even notice”)? Is the potential bias or other damage from these weaknesses convincingly addressed with by the author? Could this be improved?
Can you rephrase the research question, or the overall pitch of the paper, so it will better resonate with the public and academic audiences, be more impactful overall, or better support the strengths of the paper?
Can the language, mathematical notation, arguments, or visualizations be improved so the paper more effectively communicates to its intended audience?
Do the figures or tables convey the most important points in the paper in the most effective ways? Can they be improved?
Can you suggest better sources of data, theory, or literature that could improve the manuscript?
Please be sure to focus your review on the current research, without recommending additional work that would be more appropriate for the “next step” of the study.
The length of each review may vary, though 1-1.5 pages per review is typical.