Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Failure of Peer Review

Publisher Biomed Central has been forced to retract a large number of papers due to abuses of the "peer review" system. From the Washington Post:

Major Publisher Retracts 43 Scientific Papers Amid Wider Fake Peer Review Scandal

The system of "peer review" is supposed to ensure the quality of scientific papers. In fact the system rejects unconventional theories while allowing papers that are mediocre or completely false. Many, many more scientific papers are published full of questionable research. This scandal is barely the tip of an iceberg. Scientific research has become broken.

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Blogger Ed said...

I think the old system is dying for the same reasons that journalism is dying - the gatekeepers can't stop the flood anymore. More and more I think you'll see scientific papers published as blogs. The "peer review" in that case is open to anyone with an internet connection; everyone is a peer. Trackbacks will become as important as citations. Refereeing in the comments.

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Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Great comment, Ed. What happened with BICEP2 shows that bloggers can make a difference.

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How does a researcher get decent feedback instead of witless boosters or nasty trolls? And how then does anyone judge their work's quality? Blogging is great when there's a continual stream of feedback by equally knowledgeable commenters, but it can quickly devolve into a poo-throwing match between angry idiots when people lose track of the proper rules of debate and argument.

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