Culture Peer review

All peer reviews should be published, argues bioengineer

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What’s hot? What’s not?/Niklas Bildhauer, Wikimedia

From bioegineer and editor Nicolai Slavov at The Scientist:

Have you read a paper and thought: “How could peer reviews support the publication of such a paper?” I have. More than once. Other times, I have read fascinating papers outside of my field and wondered what the concerns of the experts who peer reviewed the study were. What important caveats am I missing?

Sometimes, I am lucky and find the answers to such questions: A few publications, including those from EMBO Press and eLife, publish the peer reviews alongside the papers. Reading such peer reviews has provided an additional dimension of appreciating and understanding the experiments and the findings, especially when I am not very familiar with the topic. But for most other journals I cannot access the peer reviews that supported a paper’s publication because most journals hide them.

Yes, this seems to b such an obvious approach to slowing the growth of the credibility gap that one’s first impulse is to wonder why it wasn’t already in place a long time ago.

How do we know that a journal conducts peer review? For most journals, the evidence is limited to our anecdotal experiences with the manuscripts that we review ourselves or that we and our friends have submitted. For me this evidence is mixed. I know of manuscripts that have been thoughtfully reviewed and manuscripts that have undergone very expedited peer review or no peer review at all before appearing in the most prestigious journals. More.

The public doesn’t know that. Most of what the public knows is derived from Michael Shermer-like outgassing about how peer review is the gold standard of science. Thus there is much doubt but little outside pressure for reform.

A bigger question looms. In an age when a serious war is underway against falsifiability at the level of our universe, one that is bound to trickle down, the defenders of evidence-based reasoning may be losing influence.

See also: Peer review “unscientific”: Tough words from editor of Nature

Bunk Science

and

Question for multiverse theorists: To what can science appeal, if not evidence?

2 Replies to “All peer reviews should be published, argues bioengineer

  1. 1
    Allan Keith says:

    I wouldn’t have a problem with this but I can’t see much of an interest in it. Peer review typically addresses two things. Is the paper appropriate for publication in the journal that it was submitted to? If no, a reason is provided. If yes, the next step are the criticisms and changes that are being requested in order to have it published. This process can go back and forth through several iterations. And it is as dry as hell.

  2. 2
    polistra says:

    Poor idea. Peer reviews are “paid” by mutual backscratching. If the reviews can be seen, there will be even MORE motivation to satisfy the alpha wolves.

    Better to abandon the practice and hire more professional editors instead. Bad methodology and dubious data can be spotted by anyone who knows the basics of science. A generalist editor will be less likely to know or care about the current hierarchy of the wolves in each sub-pack.

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