This article suggests to view peer review as a social interaction problem and shows reasons for social simulators to investigate it. Although essential for science, peer review is largely understudied and current attempts to reform it are not supported by scientific evidence. We suggest that there is room for social simulation to fill this gap by spotlighting social mechanisms behind peer review at the microscope and understanding their implications for the science system. In particular, social simulation could help to understand why voluntary peer review works at all, explore the relevance of social sanctions and reputational motives to increase the commitment of agents involved, cast light on the economic cost of this institution for the science system and understand the influence of signals and social networks in determining biases in the reviewing process. Finally, social simulation could help to test policy scenarios to maximise the efficacy and efficiency of various peer review schemes under specific circumstances and for everyone involved.