“Secretive and Subjective, Peer Review Proves Resistant to Study”
Drummond Rennie was a youngish editor at The New England Journal of Medicine in 1978 when his boss instructed him to take his place on the Australian lecture circuit, discussing issues in scientific publishing. A few days before departure, Rennie sent his administrative assistant to the library, asking her to pick 30 medical journals at random and photocopy one research article from each. He hoped to critique them during the long flight from New York to Sydney.
On the plane, he came to the conclusion that “we as a community had a colossal problem,” as he recalled to an audience of several hundred assembled here last week for the International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Publication. The papers were “perfect” for the planned lectures because they were “perfectly awful,” he recalls—filled with biased reporting and basic errors. Peer review was not working as promised, it seemed. (Paywall)
Still a colossal problem.
One wonders why the “skeptic” Michael Shermer isn’t embarrassed by his praise of peer review in Scientific American, “The Believing Brain: Why Science Is the Only Way Out of Belief-Dependent Realism” (2011).27 He sounds so astonishingly naive. As is so often the case when a troubled currency’s value is diminishing, the underlying crisis is philosophical.