"Peer reviewers can't pick up every flaw in scientific work. I think we need to look for different solutions that will help us improve the quality and robustness of scientific studies," she said. "A.I. could definitely play a role in this."
Renee Hoch, manager of the publication ethics team at the Public Library of Science [PLOS], an open access publisher like Frontiers, said her organization had also used software tools to identify potential conflicts of interest between authors and publishers, but not reviewers . Instead, the referees are asked to report problems themselves and action is taken on a case-by-case basis.
Dr. However, Hoch said that an A.I. A tool like AIRA that highlights a reviewer's potential conflicts would be helpful in reducing the burden of manually performing these reviews.
Springer Nature, the world's second largest scientific publisher, is also developing A.I. Tools and services to inform peer review, said Henning Schoenenberger, director of product data and metadata management for the company.
Despite the rise of A.I. Dr. Nuijten emphasized tools like statcheck and AIRA and emphasized the importance of the human role. She worried about what would happen if technology caused a paper to "get out of control" without really checking what was going on.
Jonathan D. Wren, bioinformatician at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, echoed that sentiment, adding that just because two researchers were previously co-authors of a paper didn't necessarily mean they couldn't objectively assess the other's work. The question, he said, is, "What would be the benefits of not doing an objective peer review today – would you benefit in any way?"
This is more difficult to answer with an algorithm.
"There's no real solution," said Kaleem Siddiqi, a computer scientist at McGill University in Montreal and editor-in-chief of a Frontiers journal on computer science. Conflicts of interest can be subjective and often difficult to detect. Researchers who have crossed often are best at judging each other, especially in smaller areas.