Wladimiro Gasparri

Rating and Peer Review: Experiences Compared

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The author comes to grips with the theme of rating and peer review beginning from the recent new features emerged in the Italian system. The evaluation of research is not a novelty and in some cases has been made subject to real regulation: the task of making evaluations assigned to anonymous referees in fact characterises the funding of research projects of national interest. Now the intention is to define standardized, regulated rating mechanisms to apply even to the privileged place of the dissemination of research and scientific thought, i.e. the reviews that aspire to the rank of scientific publication. The author observes how this normative provision raises different questions, first of all concerning whether the scientific nature of a review can be a function of the adoption of ex ante qualitative rating mechanisms to evaluate different works, whether the scientific nature of a work depends on its place of publication, whether a standardized procedure can be a suitable instrument for classification and evaluation, and, finally, whether the evaluation process which whatever scientific review intends to provide itself with can be standardized a priori and become object of an heteronymous and cogent regulation by the Ministry, with the result of placing under ministerial tutelage not only the university system but also the entire scientific community. In order to provide a first answer to these questions the writing analyses the experience gained in the national field by the review Diritto Pubblico, proceeding to focus on the debate in foreign legal experience beginning from the analysis of the regulation of peer review adopted by Nature. In light of this analysis, the author observes that peer review is an essential instrument in the formation of knowledge. But contemporaneously that same experience removes peer review - owing to its very purpose - from mechanisms of a competitive nature that would want to build on it objective models of a scientific nature able to define a sort of ranking among the various publications. Peer review came into existence as a tool in the hands of the scientific community for verifying the plausibility, scientific worth and originality of a given piece of research and as such intended to be first of all an object of testing, verification and control. To confuse all this with competitive mechanisms suitable for defining improbable merits does not seem the best service to render to scientific knowledge.

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