From Les Hatton and Gregory Warr at Times Higher:
First, peer review is self-evidently useful in protecting established paradigms and disadvantaging challenges to entrenched scientific authority. Second, peer review, by controlling access to publication in the most prestigious journals helps to maintain the clearly recognised hierarchies of journals, of researchers, and of universities and research institutes. Peer reviewers should be experts in their field and will therefore have allegiances to leaders in their field and to their shared scientific consensus; conversely, there will be a natural hostility to challenges to the consensus, and peer reviewers have substantial power of influence (extending virtually to censorship) over publication in elite (and even not-so-elite) journals.
However, for any innovations in scientific publication to succeed two conditions would need to be met. The first, as noted above, is the provision with a publication of all the information necessary for independent reproduction and repeatability of the research, and the second is the improvement in the culture of science such that less than rigorous work and deceptive publication practices are no longer tolerated.
With the scientific method itself at risk, the stakes could not be higher. More.
The angst machine has been running on this topic for decades now. Hatton and Warr do recognize a critical aspect of the main problem: Peer review success enables a scientist to get established doing what other scientists do far more than it enables advancement of the field itself. And that is especially true when hard questions might need to be asked like, are we on the wrong track?
See also: Retraction world: If this is science, yes we do hate it