Peer Reviewing: A Private Affair Between the Individual Researcher and the Publishing Houses, or a Responsibility of the University?

Peer reviewing is mandatory for scientific journals as quality control of submitted manuscripts, for universities to rank applicants for scientific positions, and for funding agencies to rank grant applications. In spite of this deep dependency of peer reviewing throughout the entire academic realm, universities exhibit a peculiar lack of interest in this activity. The aim of this article is to show that by taking an active interest in peer reviewing the universities will take control over the management and policy shaping of scientific publishing, a regime that is presently largely controlled by the big publishing houses. The benefits of gaining control of scientific publishing policy include the possibility to implement open access publishing and to reduce the unjustifiably high subscription rates currently charged by some of the major publishing houses. A common international clean-up action is needed to move this pivotal element of scientific publishing from the dark hiding places of the scientific journals to where it should be managed: namely, at the universities. In addition to the economic benefits, we postulate that placing peer reviewing at the universities will improve the quality of published research.Keywords: Peer reviewing, scholarly publishing, publishing houses, funding agencies, grant applications, universities, open access