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Shocka!: Peer review a “lottery”

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From Gunver Vestergård at ScienceNordic:

And I have not become better friends with the system after stumbling upon scientific articles that conclude the likelihood of having a paper published is, statistically speaking, random.

In other words, it is a lottery as to whether or not your paper will be accepted for publication.

A PhD is a research qualification and part of the training includes learning how to navigate the system of peer review. But I still find it hard to see how the system actually benefits research.

You learn how to satisfy reviewers and editors by mastering the academic style of writing and the format of scientific papers. You learn that the transparency of your results are not so important.

So it’s not about getting research findings published for the benefit of bring new knowledge to society.

Instead, it is about demonstrating your own ability and to pimp your CV. I have not made this up. This is exactly what one professor told me after my first rejection.

It okay, Gunver. We didn’t think you were making it up. We could go you one better, but never mind.

Sometimes it seems as if scientists have forgotten that the peer review system is not even 100 years old. Neither Newton, Darwin, Einstein, nor Bohr went through the system. As such, it is not a fundamental part of scientific endeavour, so why maintain it when it is proven to be random and slow?

More.

True, but those guy’s colleagues were fellow geniuses…

Peer review started out modestly as a system for budgeting time and money on journals. Then, as the number of people doing science expanded, it became a bureaucratic shuffle at best. Then a circus. Then a scandal. Then an ongoing subject of investigation. Stay tuned.

See also: If peer review is working, why all the retractions?

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