The room is long and narrow


In this paper we analyse some of our experiences with peer review and argue that the process should be rethought. Rather than a gate-keeping device, the ideological function should be acknowledged as well as acknowledging that the true (idealistic) purpose of publishing is to air and develop new ideas - in effect to evolve the community. Given this, peer review as a process would be better thought of as helping authors to develop their ideas and to share them. Such a process involves attempting to understand what an author is trying to do and helping her achieve her goal. It is critically constructive and creative rather than destructive/deconstructive. In recognising this we articulate the "true" purpose of the peer review process and of participating in it - or at least the democratic purpose for which it was conceived. This involves enabling divergent opinions to be heard and this in turn enables the evolution of the field from within, for the danger is if evolution does not come from within it is imposed from without. © 2002 Kluwer Academic Publishers.