Re: The religion of peer review

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Wed, 22 Feb 2006 15:50:12 EST

Peer review is just qualified specialists vetting the work of
their fellow-specialists before further specialists risk the time
and effort of trying to build on it. Sometimes it's about
protecting the public from health risk.

A religion - Anyone have a better idea? No vetting? Unqualified
vetting? Opinion polls? Pot luck?

No one who has had to sit for a quarter century in a journal
editorial office dealing with raw, unfiltered submissions has any
doubt about the value, indeed the necessity, of qualified,
answerable vetting, to protect researchers time and effort; but
armchair speculation about it will no doubt proceed apace...

     Harnad, Stevan (1998/2000/2004) The invisible
     hand of peer review. Nature [online] (5 Nov. 1998)
     Longer version in Exploit Interactive 5 (2000): and
     in Shatz, B. (2004) (ed.) Peer Review: A Critical
     Inquiry. Rowland & Littlefield. Pp. 235-242.

> Despite a lack of evidence that peer review works, most
> scientists (by nature a skeptical lot) appear to believe in
> peer review. It's something that's held "absolutely sacred" in
> a field where people rarely accept anything with "blind faith,"
> says Richard Smith, former editor of the BMJ and now CEO of
> UnitedHealth Europe and board member of PLoS. "It's very
> unscientific, really." This from a very interesting article -
> worth reading through:
> Alison McCook. Is Peer Review Broken? The Scientist: Magazine of
> the Life Sciences 20:2, page 26. at:
Received on Wed Feb 22 2006 - 22:51:11 GMT

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