“The peer review game: an agent-based model of scientists facing resource constraints and institutional pressures” by Federico Bianchi, Francisco Grimaldo, Giangiacomo Bravo and Flaminio Squazzoni has been published in Scientometrics. Previous versions of the paper were presented in some PEERE meetings. Here is the paper.
Abstract. This paper looks at peer review as a cooperation dilemma through a game-theory framework. We built an agent-based model to estimate how much the quality of peer review is influenced by different resource allocation strategies followed by scientists dealing with multiple tasks, i.e., publishing and reviewing. We assumed that scientists were sensitive to acceptance or rejection of their manuscripts and the fairness of peer review to which they were exposed before reviewing. We also assumed that they could be realistic or excessively over-confident about the quality of their manuscripts when reviewing. Furthermore, we assumed they could be sensitive to competitive pressures provided by the institutional context in which they were embedded. Results showed that the bias and quality of publications greatly depend on reviewer motivations but also that context pressures can have a negative effect. However, while excessive competition can be detrimental to minimising publication bias, a certain level of competition is instrumental to ensure the high quality of publication especially when scientists accept reviewing for reciprocity motives.