We formed Reviewer Zero in Summer 2020 to address the need for greater equity in the peer review process in psychology and related fields. Although peer review ideally improves research and promotes rigor, it also has consequences for what types of research are published and cited, and who wants to (and is able to) advance in research-focused careers. Unprofessional peer reviews disproportionately harm scholars from underserved groups. This is just one of many barriers to entry, participation, and inclusion in academia that underserved scholars face.
We want to change this. In contrast to the dreaded “Reviewer 2”, Reviewer Zero envisions a “reset” of peer review culture in which reviews primarily serve a formative rather than gatekeeping function. Focusing on scholars in psychology, neuroscience, and the cognitive sciences, we seek to:
Promote more constructive and formative peer review practices. Despite peer review’s place as a core scientific practice, few reviewers receive training or oversight to ensure their feedback is helpful, professional, and culturally sensitive. We are developing interventions that build these capacities for editors, reviewers, and trainees. Outreach and partnerships with existing institutions (journals, societies) will lead to the dissemination of new views of the goals and processes of peer review.
Provide underserved trainees with more positive, supportive experiences of peer review. A new paper development system (Formative And Interactive Review) will provide a novel institutional structure for fundamentally different interactions between reviewers and trainees. Our trained network of reviewers will provide formative, constructive input for trainee work in progress that reinforces the strengths of the work, anticipates critical feedback that may arise in the review process, and builds resilience by providing strategies for dealing with that feedback.
Promote a more expansive view of “good science”. Peer review impacts not just the success of individual scientists, but also what kinds of research are formalized and elevated in the scientific record through publication, citation and promotion. We seek to build awareness among reviewers and editors, who occupy positions of power in making peer review decisions, of the often-invisible ideologies that shape beliefs about what “counts” as “good science”, and the importance of diversity in selecting study populations, research methods, and research questions.
Our project received seed funding from the APA Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention and Training in 2021-2022, and is currently supported by a grant from NSF's Innovations in Graduate Education Program. If you'd like to get involved, find out more here.