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Research Methods

3) The role of peer review

The most common way of validating new knowledge is peer reviewing. Peers are professionals in the same field as the psychologist or scientists whose work is being reviewed.

The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (2002) said that peer reviews serve 3 main purposes:

1)      Allocation of research funding – Research is paid for by various government and charitable bodies. The peer reviews help to determine where this funding should go.

2)      Publication in scientific journals – Having your research published in a scientific journal is a major goal for all psychologists. Peer reviews help  decide whether research is good enough to be published, and receiving positive peer reviews can be enough to catch the eye of journal editors.

3)      Assessing the research rating of university departments – Most research is carried out in universities and having successful research is very important for the credibility of a department. A good peer review of research conducted within a university can improve the rating of that department.

How the internet has affected peer reviews

With more and more research being published on internet based journals, the nature of peer reviewing is changing. For example, on the internet journal Philica papers are ranked upon ratings the readers give them; here the ‘peers’ are everyone who reads it, whereas normally peers and only experts in that field. This is a clear example the internet has changed the nature of peer reviews.


About Sam Cook

A blog set up to help A Level students revise Sociology


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