On Tuesday, I wrote a draft blog post in response to Michael Eisen's
blog post on how Lior
Pachter's blog post was a a model for post-publication peer review
(PPPR). (My draft post suggested that scientific bloggers aim for
inclusivity by adopting a code of conduct and
posting explicit site commenting policies).
I asked several people for comments on my post, and a (female) friend
who is a non-scientist responded:
My big thing is that if I'm doing something in my spare time, I
don't want to be dealing with the same bullshit that I do at work.
While my friend is not a scientist, and her comment spoke specifically
to the challenges of women in tech, this comment nails the broader
challenge for post-publication peer review: how do we make
post-publication peer review a welcoming experience? If it's an
optional activity that turns people off, most people won't do it. And
I'd love to see more assistant professors, grad students, and women
engaging in PPPR. However, if PPPR mirrors the not infrequent
assholery of anonymous peer reviews and is only done amongst
high-profile tenured faculty (or anonymously), we won't engage with
this broader community.
I don't have any one perfect answer, but there are a few things that
the tech community has done that nudge things in the right direction.
A per-site code of conduct and commenting policies are two obvious
idea, and (on Twitter) Joe Pickrell suggested asking
people to work on the Principle of Charity which I really
Michael Eisen had a great comment on a
different issue that I think applies here --
it's not really about what "science needs" - it's about not being
Yep. Any inclusive community building effort should start somewhere
near the "don't be an asshole" rule - while a low bar, it should at
least be achievable :)
We've had a fairly large amount of high profile aggressive alpha-male
behavior in bioinformatics blogging and post-pub peer review, and it's
worth thinking hard about whether this is the direction we want to
pursue. I hope it's not. Fundamentally, it's our community and we
should grow it responsibly. Some ground rules about conduct and
commenting would be a good start. There are many interesting
questions, e.g. about how to retain intellectual rigor while being
welcoming to junior participants who might fear retaliation for
critical commentary; I hope we can figure that out. I'm already
encouraged by the quiet subculture of preprints and preprint
commentary that's sprung up completely apart from Lior's blog.
Other than a general attempt to be more welcoming, I'm not sure what
else to do. I'd love to hear people's thoughts on how to grow the
practice of post-publication peer review, and I'm happy to post them
anonymously for people who don't want to comment themselves.
p.s. There is some irony in referring to Mike and Lior's blogs, which
I personally find very unwelcoming in several ways; I encourage them
to think about a code of conduct of some sort, along with a commenting
policy, so we can know what kind of commentary they intentionally hope
to foster on their blogs.
p.p.s. I haven't put a Code of Conduct or commenting policy on my blog yet,
I know. I'll get to it soon :)
There are comments.