Scrap peer review and beware of “top journals”

The myth is that research is done, a paper is written and submitted for publication, the paper is peer reviewed to make sure it is up to standards and if the paper receives recommendations from the peer reviewer, then it is published, and the world makes another truly “scientific” step forward.

Nice theory but reality is much messier. There are some very interesting articles on problems with the peer review system.  This link is to only one of  the hard hitting ones on the subject.

This is from Richard Smith and published on a BMJ blog:

…Prepublication peer review is faith based not evidence based, and Sudlow’s story shows how it failed badly at Science. Her anecdote joins a mountain of evidence of the failures of peer review: it is slow, expensive, largely a lottery, poor at detecting errors and fraud, anti-innovatory, biased, and prone to abuse. (6 7) As two Cochrane reviews have shown, the upside is hard to demonstrate. (8 9) Yet people like Sudlow who are devotees of evidence persist in belief in peer review. Why?

The world also seems unaware that it is scientifically dangerous to read only the “top journals”. As Neal Young and others have argued, the “top journals” publish the sexy stuff. (10) The unglamorous is published elsewhere or not at all, and yet the evidence comprises both the glamorous and the unglamorous.

The naïve concept that the “top journals” publish the important stuff and the lesser journals the unimportant is simply false. People who do systematic reviews know this well. Anybody reading only the “top journals” receives a distorted view of the world—as this Science story illustrates. Unfortunately many people, including most journalists, do pay most attention to the “top journals.”

via  Richard Smith: Scrap peer review and beware of “top journals”.

additional articles on the subject:

Questioning the Value of Recommendations in Peer Review (Michael Long)

Are Peer Reviews Reliable and Do Editors Care?

Peer review: a flawed process at the heart of science and journals


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