Does peer review crush novel innovation?

HBS Faculty Member Karim R. Lakhani

I found Karim Lakhani’s research on the “Novelty Paradox” fascinating.  The research shows that the peer review process is biased against novel ideas that deviate from existing paradigms:

In this paper, the authors investigate how nascent scientific hypotheses are evaluated, specifically looking at the process by which medical research grant proposals are assessed by “gatekeepers”: in this case, elite researchers from a leading medical school. Innovation requires novelty—but novelty, as this paper shows, is not appreciated and is in fact penalized.

This finding is certainly consistent with the long list of breakthrough scientific discoveries that were initially rejected by the scientific establishment.  See for example:

Daniel Shechtman and the discovery of the Quasicrystals

James Watson and the discovery of the helix structure of the DNA

About Arie Goldshlager

Customer Insight, Customer Strategy, and Innovation Consultant
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