Dear members of the Kickstarter Grant Review Committee (hereinafter, backers),
We are requesting your support for the project “Creating the World’s First Monument to an Anonymous Peer Reviewer”. It is a timely and very important project that has received endorsements from Eric Maskin, 2007 Nobel Laureate in Economics, who commented: “Anonymous reviewers are the unsung heroes of science. Essential but uncredited, they do their work out of a sense of responsibility”, and Andre Geim, 2010 Nobel Laureate in Physics, who reminded us that “Dubito ergo sum.”
The detailed description of the project and three anonymous reviews follow below.
As previous research shows, science has had many heroic contributors without whose tireless efforts we would still be living in the Dark Ages. Researchers like Pasteur and Boyle, philosophers and visionaries, such as Kant. We have even had gorillas that were taught sign language so that they could finally ask for a banana instead of ripping off a research assistant’s arm. For too long, however, one such figure has been overlooked by most studies—the peer reviewer—someone who anonymously time and time again sends back research documents and findings with requests for revisions. What use was fire to the caveman who first invented it without the first peer reviewer who suggested that he should replicate the experiment with wet sticks in the rain? The proposed project intends to test whether or not the scientific community will acknowledge the contribution of peer reviewers or resent their efforts? Peer reviewers may be recognized today by obscene graffiti on researchers’ desks and walls of great universities as well as in mean-spirited Facebook groups. But your support will enable us to finally give these invisible heroes the monument they truly deserve.
The purpose of the project is to create a monument honoring the achievements of anonymous peer reviewers so that their accomplishments will be remembered through the ages and not sent back for further revisions.
The project uses an innovative but simple experimental methodology. First, we pick an ugly block of concrete sitting near the Institute of Education at HSE University in Moscow. Second, we are going to raise money from Kickstarter to pay the sculptor and the designer and create the monument according to our designs. Third, the sculptor will turn this block of concrete into a big dice. Fourth, the designer will paint “Accept,” “Minor Changes,” “Major Changes,” “Revise and Resubmit,” and “Reject” on the sides of the dice. Fifth, we will place a sign with all backers’ names near the monument.
The first stage—picking an ugly block of concrete—has been completed successfully.
Right now we are in the second stage of the experiment to see if anyone reaches for their credit card to acknowledge the work of peer reviewers. No one really sponsors anything in research without expecting some sort of a reward. That would just be silly, wouldn’t it? So we’re offering the following rewards:
- Your Name on the Sign near the Monument
Pledge $1 or more and we will put your name on a sign near the monument.
- Small Dice
Contribute $25 and we will send you a model of the monument shaped like a dice. Not only is this a handsome reward, but you can also use it to pretend you’re a peer reviewer deciding the fate of somebody else’s lifework.
- Crap Shoot
Contribute $40 and we’ll send you two models of the monument. Now you can play craps with your reward and experience the feeling of what goes through peer reviewers’ minds when gambling on the future of your project.
- The Title of Your Paper on One Side of the Monument
Are you worried that your magnum opus representing years of effort will be forgotten? Worry no more because for $60 we will paint the title of your research paper on one side of the monument. You should respond quickly, though, because we have space for only twenty titles. Please note that those who submit especially lengthy research paper titles may need to buy two places.
Project Team Qualifications
The Principal Investigator of the project is Igor Chirikov, who works at the Institute of Education, HSE University Moscow and the Center for Studies in Higher Education at UC Berkeley. His research experience in the field of higher education helped him to identify an important gap in how we acknowledge peer reviewers.
He came up with the idea and put together a great team of collaborators: Alexander Sidorkin, Isak Froumin, Sergey Burov, Irina Shcheglova, Irina Brun, Maria Pravdina, Ivan Gruzdev, Imani Crawford, Daria Drozhzhina, Daria Khlevnyuk, and Sofia Vanyatkina. The Crow (HSE University's mascot) and Gek (the Space Corgi) are also a part of the team. The Polytechnic Museum of Moscow contributed to the project by providing access to the fantastic Chemistry lab where we shot the video.
After extended calculations, we determined that such a project should cost $1,300.
We believe this monument will not be just a funny square-shaped block in front of our university building. It will add a layer of genuine mysticism to the world of peer review and researching. Researchers from across the world will visit to touch the “Accept” side in the hope that the gods of peer review will smile down upon them. Of course, some unsuccessful researchers will want to curse it, and that’s their business. Peer reviewers themselves may view the monument as a place of worship.
Shown below are responses of the anonymous peer reviewers so that you can make an informed decision.
This is the most brilliant idea I’ve ever heard of, and I cannot see why it shouldn’t work. The person who came up with this idea is an excellent researcher, but he should visit his former PhD advisor more often.
This is an interesting and unusual project that hasn’t been completed before. Peer reviewing is perhaps one of the most ancient arts and sciences. After all, after the very earliest man wrote down his theories, somebody had to point out what was wrong with them. However, is a cube really the most efficient way of expressing the nature of anonymous reviewing? I would suggest a second feasibility study trying a pyramidal monument, a rhombus, and a dodecahedron, and you should also assess viewer reactions over a 5-year period. Beyond that I believe this project is ready to go.
This project is appalling. Who thought of such a terrible thing? The only people who will visit it will be peer reviewers looking for some sort of validation. They’ll be ambushed by packs of embittered researchers whose papers were rejected and be torn limb from limb, which they will thoroughly deserve. If you fund this monument, you’ll have blood on your hands.
Risks and challenges
The major challenges are (a) Anonymous Peer Reviewers are by their very nature anonymous. Accordingly, no one is going to be interested in someone they have never heard of, (b) most people don’t know what an anonymous peer reviewer does and most likely think they review seaside resorts, (c) there is a risk that somebody will steal the monument to use as a decoration in a casino, (d) there is a risk that the monument will fail peer reviews, and we will have to start over with something completely different—perhaps Anonymous Peer Review, the musical?Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (25 days)