Flaws in the Peer Review System
June 2, 2015
The article titled Does Peer Review Do More Harm Than Good? on Maclean’s explores the issues facing today’s peer review system. Peer review is the process of an expert looking over a scientific paper before it is published in order to double check the findings. It is typically unpaid and as a result, can take a long time. In an effort to solve the wait time problem, some journals started offering “fast tracking” or a hefty fee that would guarantee a quick turnaround for peer review. The article quotes Professor Alex Holcombe on the subject,
“It ran contrary to many of the scientific values that I hold dear,” says Holcombe, “which is: What appears in scientific journals is determined not by money, but rather the merit of the actual science.” He says fast-tracking is a formula for taking shortcuts—such tight timelines may force reviewers and editors to make decisions without proper scrutiny—and worries it will jeopardize reviewers’ neutrality.”
The article goes on to compare peer review to democracy- the best of all evils. But now predatory journals are posing as legitimate academic journals in an attempt to get money out of desperate-to-publish scientists. Not only is this exploitative, it also leads to bad science getting published. For scientists, the discrepancies may be obvious, but the article points out that journalists and politicians might not know the difference, leading to the spread of “crackpot views” without a base in science.
Chelsea Kerwin, June 2, 2015