The assumption that today’s peer-reviewed paper has been vetted by experts and therefore has been awarded a blue ribbon for excellence is far from the truth. Peer review often does not do its job. Consequently, today’s collection of scholarly literature is exploding in quantity and deteriorating in quality.
Peer review comes in different flavors. One is anonymous peer review, where the identity of the reviewers is kept secret from the author. Albert Einstein only had one anonymous peer review in his career — and the paper was rejected. This happened in 1936. A decade and a half earlier in 1905, Einstein’s annus mirabilis (remarkable year), he had published four breathtaking papers. One introduced the world to special relativity…Robert J. Marks, “Einstein’s only rejected paper” at Mind Matters News
His “remarkable year” reviewers were themselves eventually Nobelists so they were actually peers. Marks again:
Much has changed. Peer review today is done largely by reviewers who are not peers. Professors often assign paper review to senior graduate students. Associate Editors often do not examine a paper carefully, defaulting to the recommendations of the reviewers. Editors typically parrot the opinions offered by the Associate Editor. More than once. I have been forced to offer tutorials, rich with references, to correct “peer” reviews made by technical simpletons. It’s a waste of time. A reviewer should know such things.Robert J. Marks, “Einstein’s only rejected paper” at Mind Matters News
Further reading: Why is it so hard to reform peer review? Robert J. Marks: Reformers are battling numerical laws that govern how incentives work. Know your enemy!
Anti-plagiarism software goof: Paper rejected for repeat citations: The scholar was obliged by discipline rules to cite the flagged information repetitively.