#18 Peer Review, Reviewed: A Closer Look at Scientific Publishing | WeAreSTS

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Most of us have heard of peer review, but how does it actually work? After more than a century, is it still fit for purpose? This episode explores the state of peer review in academic publishing. With guests from within the field, we hear what it means for researchers, publishers, and institutions like UCL. As the tide of open access publishing gains momentum and more research is made freely accessible, what will peer review look like in the future? How will academic publishing evolve more widely? In the future, can we still value anonymity over acknowledgement of reviewers? In this episode, Olivia Kehoe explores the peer review process with a critical eye, discussing how other trends in publishing, such as open access and data publishing, soon might re-shape activities such as peer review. She highlights two alternatives to the current system: UCL Press’s open peer review system and a user-organised initiative called “Peer Community In” founded by scientists, for scientists.

Understanding what’s inside the “black box” of peer review is of huge value to those in science and technology studies (STS), too. Can we trust the process? How could we improve it?



Thanks to her guests, Sunbul Akhtar, Denis Bourguet, and Catherine Sharp for their time, patience and expertise in helping Olivia tackle some of these questions.

Olivia completed this podcast episode as part of a summer studentship project with Professor Joe Cain. This project was funded by UCL Faculty of Mathematics and Physical Sciences (MAPS) as a careers-building initiative. Thanks Olivia! Great work.


Reporter and researcher


  • Sunbul Akhtar, UCL Press Journals Coordinator
  • Denis Bourguet, Director of Research at the National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment in France (INRAE)
  • Catherine Sharp, Head of UCL Open Access Services

WeAreSTS Host

Music credits

Intro and Exit music

  • “Rollin At 5,” by Kevin MacLeod
    License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0

Music within the episode

Podcast information

WeAreSTS is a production of the Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS) at University College London (UCL). To find out more, or to leave feedback about the show:

This site also includes information for how STS students and staff can get involved with our programme.

Editing and production by Olivia Kehoe.

Post-production by Professor Joe Cain.

WeAreSTS producer is Professor Joe Cain.

Twitter: @stsucl #WeAreSTS