On 11 July 2016, Stefano Balietti (previously at ETH Zurich, now at Network Science Institute, Northeastern University, Boston, US) and Dirk Helbing (ETH Zurich), both past PEERE members from Switzerland, published an article on Peer review and competition in the Art Exhibition Game in PNAS, 2016. A preliminary version of the paper was presented at a PEERE meeting in Zurich in 2015.
Here is the abstract: “Competition is an essential mechanism in increasing the effort and performance of human groups in real life. However, competition has side effects: it can be detrimental to creativity and reduce cooperation. We conducted an experiment called the Art Exhibition Game to investigate the effect of competitive incentives in environments where the quality of creative products and the amount of innovation allowed are decided through peer review. Our approach is general and can provide insights in domains such as clinical evaluations, scientific admissibility, and science funding. Our results show that competition leads to more innovation but also to more unfair reviews and to a lower level of agreement between reviewers. Moreover, competition does not improve the average quality of published works”.