A Community's Perspective on the Status and Future of Peer Review in Software Engineering

Lutz Prechelt, Daniel Graziotin, Daniel Méndez Fernández

Context: Pre-publication peer review of scientific articles is considered a key element of the research process in software engineering, yet it is often perceived as not to work fully well. Objective: We aim at understanding the perceptions of and attitudes towards peer review of authors and reviewers at one of software engineering's most prestigious venues, the International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE). Method: We invited 932 ICSE 2014/15/16 authors and reviewers to participate in a survey with 10 closed and 9 open questions. Results: We present a multitude of results, such as: Respondents perceive only one third of all reviews to be good, yet one third as useless or misleading; they propose double-blind or zero-blind reviewing regimes for improvement; they would like to see showable proofs of (good) reviewing work be introduced; attitude change trends are weak. Conclusion: The perception of the current state of software engineering peer review is fairly negative. Also, we found hardly any trend that suggests reviewing will improve by itself over time; the community will have to make explicit efforts. Fortunately, our (mostly senior) respondents appear more open for trying different peer reviewing regimes than we had expected.

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