An exploratory study on knowledge quality through the peer review process for research publications

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An exploratory study on knowledge quality through the peer review process for research publications

 

Author: Sabetzadeh, Farzad
Title: An exploratory study on knowledge quality through the peer review process for research publications
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2016
Subject: Knowledge, Theory of
Academic writing.
Peer review.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of Industrial and Systems Engineering
Pages: xvii, 225 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2925486
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/8733
Abstract: In the fast growing world of science, knowledge is the building block of such an expansion. With the various sources of obtaining information over the World Wide Web, there is always concern about the quality of knowledge that is being shared, used or applied. There are many thousands of scientific papers that are reviewed, submitted and published and immediately become accessible over the internet. While much of the material on the web may look like scattered pieces of information, when these pieces are combined, structured and properly delivered, they become prime sources of knowledge on a very large scale. Data and information quality has been much talked about but when it comes to knowledge, explanation of quality is not an easy task due to the subjectivity of the quality and the context in which the knowledge is generated, disseminated or adopted. Peer-reviewing in the scientific publication context is one of the areas that gives quality assessment feedback for knowledge generation, dissemination and adoption as the building blocks of the knowledge value chain. In this study, we first explore the fundamental definitions related to quality and knowledge to get a deeper insight on how to define knowledge quality in such a way it can cater for various contexts with different characteristics. These fundamental concepts are discussed based on the long-established epistemological terms being used over decades of scholarly endeavours. Such definitions are then expanded into the assessment of quality of knowledge in the context of the peer-review process in order to propose a working definition of knowledge quality in scientific contexts that is in concordance with all quality aspects described in the literature review. Scientific publications, as the ultimate output of the peer-review process, are good representatives for proper demonstration of knowledge quality that emerges in assessing research manuscripts. Various dimensions of knowledge quality are also explored and discussed throughout the peer-review experiment in this study.
The second part of this study explores the biases that affect knowledge quality assessments in peer-review process. These biases will be investigated through the knowledge quality attributes that are being used and understood by the reviewers in the peer-review process. These quality attributes are then scrutinized in connection with the knowledge resources for both content and schema (format) of the manuscripts. Furthermore, the decision patterns resulting from these knowledge quality attributes will be examined both quantitatively and qualitatively in order to identify the reviewer's preferences and priorities that may lead to peer-review decisions. The last part of this study investigates the inter-subjectivity and agreement level among reviewers. It also examines the scaling impact for convergence or divergence of peer-review decisions when reviewers are randomly divided into groups or when the reviewers are increased or decreased from the decision panel (assuming the final decision is the one voted by majority). Such validations also demonstrate the importance of reliability in knowledge quality attributes as well as the implications in the generalization of these metrics within the same context. The qualitative analysis of the study will corroborate the extent of generalizability achieved from such quantitative measures. This significance of this study is in portraying knowledge quality assessment in a tangible context like the peer-review process and the importance of proper understanding of quality in the context of knowledge in evaluating scientific works. This exploratory study gives a better insight on how the knowledge quality is defined and assessed in a real world case study like peer-reviewing and how it can be systematically improved by analysis of different dimensions of knowledge quality for each context.

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