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Peer-Review and the Corruption of Science

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The Guardian features an interesting opinion column by the renowned British pharmacologist David Colquhoun. The article bears the intriguing headline, “Publish-or-perish: Peer review and the corruption of science.” The author laments that “Pressure on scientists to publish has led to a situation where any paper, however bad, can now be printed in a journal that claims to be peer-reviewed.”

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"There is an alternative: publish your paper yourself on the web and open the comments." EV Koonin. A top molecular biology guru. He publishes in Biology Direct, an open review site. I can guess why. To avoid censorship. In 2007, he wrote a paper looking at how the simplest RNA life could start by unguided chemical reactions. he computed the probability of the reaction to be 1 in 10^1018, given 14 billion years, and the entire universe. Which means origin of life research is hopeless. A guaranteed failure. What are the chances that such a pro ID/anti gravy train conclusion could make it thru peer review? I mean in less than 50 years. chris haynes
Jonathan, Good post. I like the comments "to have written 800 papers is regarded as something to boast about rather than being shameful" and "with far fewer papers being published, reviewers, grant committees and promotion committees might be able to read the papers, not just count them." I am not sure that corruption in science (or academia in general) is worse than in other parts of life, but if your point is that the idea that scientists are immune from the corruption that we see in other parts of society is naive, I would certainly agree with that. Granville Sewell

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