Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Peer review or popular review?

Popular review could be useful. I have not commented on peer review before but I have a modereately negative view of it. If it solely checked for logical or mathematical errors in an article then fine, but it is often abused. And it does not prevent fraud. I think publish everything and let people point out the errors after the fact. Better public exposure of poor work than the imprisonment of profound knowledge by self-important and ignorant gatekeepers.

Nature discusses recent internet criticism of a Science article that led to Science expressing concern about the article. In "Trial by Twitter", Apoora Mandavilli discuss several solutions.
To bring some order to this chaos, it looks as though a new set of cultural norms will be needed, along with an online infrastructure to support them. The idea of open, online peer review is hardly new. Since Internet usage began to swell in the 1990s, enthusiasts have been arguing that online commenting could and should replace the traditional process of pre-publication peer review that journals carry out to decide whether a paper is worth publishing.

"It makes much more sense in fact to publish everything and filter after the fact," says Cameron Neylon, a senior scientist at the Science & Technology Facilities Council, a UK funding body.
Former journal editor Richard Smith comments on the Nature paper and agrees that there are problems with the current process
We know too that postpublication review is the real peer review in that most papers disappear into obscurity and just a few emerge as important—and often not papers published in major journals. Our present system of trying to sort information by having the best papers in the best journals not only doesn’t work but it deceives us, giving too much attention to the sexy but often wrong.
The problem with peer review is not shonky science, it is related to the psychology of the referees. And if you need convincing of its flaws, read Smith's paper.

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