A Parliamentary enquiry has recently been hearing evidence from Professor Baz Kitcaisse of the Creative Risks Unit (CRU) attached to East Ongar University. The issue under investigation is the vexed question of Rev-Ex, the peer-review exchange system set up by an international group of scientist. Rev-Ex stands for Review Exchange. It is a web-based system by which scientists are able to peer-review each other’s work on a simple exchange basis. If you are a scientist with a Rev-Ex account, and I peer-review one of your papers, you are prompted by the Rev-Ex system to peer-review one of mine.
“It gets the job done efficiently,” is Professor Kitcaisse’s robust defence of Rev-Ex, which a few maverick scientists without Rev-Ex accounts have claimed to be unscientific, particularly as you need Rev-Ex sponsors to open a Rev-Ex account. Chairing the Parliamentary enquiry was none other than Lord Paltrie, well-known UK science philanthropist and solid supporter of the Creative Risks Unit. Lord Paltrie flew in from the Cayman Islands only a few days ago, but already the enquiry has met a couple of times over lunch in order to complete its work satisfactorily. A formal report is expected in a year or so, possibly during the Olympics in 2012.
However, I can reveal that apart from a few reservations from a minority of members on the enquiry panel, Rev-Ex and all its participants have been exonerated from any kind of deviation from strict scientific impartiality. In fact, Lord Paltrie went out of his way to praise the system as “robust, effective and exceedingly useful for policy-makers,” before being obliged to jet off back to the Cayman Islands for undisclosed legal reasons.