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A group of HSE staff has launched a Kickstarter account to raise funds for an unusual project – a monument to an anonymous peer reviewer. If enough money is raised, the monument will be erected near the HSE Institute of Education.
At the start of this past summer, the staff of the HSE Institute of Education came up with the idea of turning a block of concrete in the institute’s courtyard into a work of art. The idea proposed by Igor Chirikov, Director of the Centre of Sociology of Higher Education, turned out to be the most popular. He suggested transforming a piece of concrete into a monument to an anonymous peer reviewer. The idea is to make it look like a big dice with sides featuring some of the typical opinions reviewers give to academic articles (‘Accept’, ‘Minor Changes’, etc.).
‘Of all roles in the academic community, I believe the role of reviewers is the most underestimated’, Igor Chirikov said, adding: ‘Producing peer reviews entails hard work and a lot of responsibility. It takes a lot of time, but almost never produces any rewards, neither in terms of money, nor reputation, or career. At the same time, I feel sympathetic to authors, including myself, whose papers are rejected and who sometimes get harsh comments from reviewers. That’s why the idea of the monument is a bit sarcastic. On one hand, it brings attention to the role of reviewers. On the other hand, it makes fun of the review process.’
The project has already been supported by two Nobel laureates. Eric Maskin, 2007 Nobel Laureate in Economics and Chief Research Fellow at the HSE International Laboratory of Decision Choice and Analysis, called anonymous researchers ‘unsung heroes of science’ who do their invisible work ‘out of a sense of responsibility’. At the same time, Andre Geim, 2010 Nobel Laureate in Physics, described reviewers’ contributions to scientific progress with the Latin phrase: ‘Dubito ergo sum’ (‘I doubt, therefore I am’).
The most generous contributors (donating $60) will see the titles of their research papers on the sides of the dice. Those who contribute smaller amounts will get small models of the dice-shaped monument. And let’s be honest - who doesn’t like throwing some dice?
A detailed and funny description of the project can be read on its Kickstarter page. Fundraising will continue until October 2, 2016.
‘I hope that, once the monument is set up, researchers will visit it before applying for journal publications and touch the ‘Accept’ side’, said Igor Chirikov. ‘I believe this could be a good university tradition’ he stated.
Nature and Chronicle of Higher Education have already written about the project.