TechCrunch’s Kim-Mai Cutler (@kimmaicutler) reports we may be seeing a new sort of peer review with a feature called ‘Sessions’ being added to Academia.edu, a 21 million user social network used by academics to share research, monitor deep analytics around the impact of their research, and track the research of academics they follow.

Sessions allows select groups of academics to privately discuss a working paper for 20 days. It tries to mimic the dynamics of a conference where a researcher discusses their work with a select peer group in a question-and-answer session.

Richard Price, CEO of Academia, wants to see academic research, now slowed by universities and very expensive publications controlled by giants such as Reed Elsevier (parent of LexisNexis), available to everyone.

I want a world where a 19-year-old kid in China can access a paper he’s interested in about lithium ion batteries on his phone on the subway and it’s validated by others and it’s in his own language.

Price is spot on. Why should those in academia in the sciences, medicine, technology and even the law have to wait 12 months for peer review to see if their knowledge, insight and commentary gets published? Why shouldn’t their thinking be immediately available to anyone in the world through the Internet?

A slow peer review process driven by a university driven job tenure system and major publisher gated review makes little sense in this day of digital publishing and blogs.

Shawn Tuma, a Texas cybersecurity lawyer and blogger, shared in a comment on Facebook how the current peer review system bottlenecks legal dialogue and advances.

I wrote a law review article upon request, last January, on a time sensitive topic with the promise it would be out in the Spring … yeah … still isn’t …

Peer review is going to change. Blogs have democratized publishing, connected like minds, advanced dialogue among professionals and made information freely accessible.

Though editorial review may play a role in some publishing, the process can be democratized and accelerated through the Internet and machine learning.

Sessions, which wants to see peer reviewed content up in 24 hours, may be the tip of the iceberg.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Jed Sullivan