Peer Review
Posted: 20 July 2007 08:05 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Hi,


Why being published in a in a peer-reviewed journal is a qualification mark of the article?


Can the fact that journals are peer-reviewed act as ‘suppresion of truth by the scientific community’ ?

[ Edited: 20 July 2007 08:08 PM by wandering ]
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Posted: 20 July 2007 08:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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First, there’s a great deal of “research” done by people who don’t know how to set up a project or set it up with a bias, either by accident or to prove a predetermined position.  Quite a few companies subsidize “scientists” to do work on their product to show it’s safe or efficacious.  Peer review is designed to screen most of these out.

Second, if someone does good work that goes strongly against the present views, it might be rejected in a peer review, but the author can always publish it in a journal that is not peer reviewed.  These don’t have the standing, but people still read them.  If anyone feels the work deserves further investigation, s/he will do so.  After a few people have replicated the results, even the peer reviewed journals will publish the data.

So, peer review may occasionally slow down (not suppress) “truth”, but they also filter out a huge amount of trash.

Occam

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Posted: 20 July 2007 08:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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The peer review usually blocks researches with gross methodologic errors. It is more likely that an editor forgive scientific mistakes in order to publish a polemic article (and increase discussions and reeders) than to deny an article because it is against the present views. Editors love articles well written, scientifically correct and against the view of the scientific community. Those articles are cited in others and the reference value of his journal would increase.

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Posted: 21 July 2007 09:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Peer review is absolutely essential to any contemporary scientific undertaking. Peer review allows anonymous, unaffiliated scientists in the same area to look through the methodology of the study and determine if indeed all the proper controls were put in place, the statistics were done properly, and that the conclusions were supported by the data.

No human procedure will ever be perfect, of course, and peer review will almost never catch any very serious attempt at falsifying the data. For that to be caught, what is also needed is repeatability—that is, that each experiment be repeated by different, unaffiliated teams of people. Any serious result will almost inevitably be repeated.

The notion that peer review stifles true scientific discovery is a canard of pseudoscience. Any true phenomena of any interest at all to anyone will be published, none moreso than those which cause scientific revolutions. Of course, in the case that the experiment is particularly surprising, the peer review team may well (with reason) ask for more rigorous controls. This follows Carl Sagan’s famous aphorism that ‘extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence’.

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Posted: 21 July 2007 10:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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By the way, I´m a reviewer of an international journal of Hepatology.

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Posted: 21 July 2007 11:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Peer review is only one of the marks of quality.  Whenever I have written papers, I have always tried to go for peer-reviewed jouranls with an impact factor of 1 or more.  Even down to 0.7 is acceptable.  If you are accepted in peer-reviewed journals of this quality, there is no bias coming into play.  I have known professors who have headed up academic organisations with their own journals that were peer reviewed and who have got their students to write papers to go into these publications.  This way there is a possibility that the professors involved may have been able to get these papers reviewed by experts who were (perhaps) less objective and less critical.  However these journals have had impact factors of 0.3 and lower.  Not surprisingly, when you consider that many of these PhD students’ “original contributions to the body of scientific knowledge” were to perform the same battery of bog standard tests, just with different materials than had been tested before.  Such research does not have a great impact, given that it is just plugging away at something until you happen to find something that works.

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Posted: 21 July 2007 01:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Peer review is not without it’s problems and mistakes.

Here is an interesting article about Deepak Chopra and ancient Indian medicine making it’s way into the Journal of the American Medical Association:
http://www.aaskolnick.com/naswmav.htm

Here are some other interesting resources:

http://www2.uah.es/jmc/nobel.html
Abstract:

I review and discuss instances in which 27 future Nobel Laureates encountered resistance on part of scientific community towards their discoveries and instances in which 36 future Nobel Laureates encountered resistance on part of scientific journal editors or referees to manuscripts that dealt with discoveries that on later date would assure them the Nobel Prize. Although in some occasions the rejection of Nobel class papers could be justified, here I show that the danger that scientific journals disregard or delay important discoveries is real and it can be disastrous.

http://www.uow.edu.au/arts/sts/bmartin/pubs/04jse.html
Abstract:

There are many well-qualified scientists who question long-established physics theories even when paradigms are not in crisis. Challenging scientific orthodoxy is difficult because most scientists are educated and work within current paradigms and have little career incentive to examine unconventional ideas. Dissidence is a strategic site for learning about the dynamics of science. Dozens of well-qualified scientists who challenge dominant physics paradigms were contacted to determine how they try to overcome resistance to their ideas. Some such challengers obtain funding in the usual ways; others tap unconventional sources or use their own funds. For publishing, many challengers use alternative journals and attend conferences dedicated to alternative viewpoints; publishing on the web is of special importance. Only a few physics dissidents come under attack, probably because they have not achieved enough prominence to be seen as a threat. Physics could benefit from greater openness to challenges; one way to promote this is to expose students to unconventional views.

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Posted: 21 July 2007 01:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Yes, that’s right, it does.  My stuff is far more pedestrian than that of these illustrious men and women and I have had stuff that was later accepted rejected.  The more ground-breaking your work, the more that happens.  I examined the comments from one reviewer and he had clearly only read my abstract and went on to dispute claims I didn’t even make in the paper.  Such is life though.  You have to be able to take the knocks with good grace, address any sensible concerns expressed by the reviewers (if you can) and resubmit.  In this way, the fact that these people’s works have been rejected and have had to be resubmitted only gives it more validity as far as I can see.

That last statement in your abstract is worrying given the current climate of this wedge of “truth” that is coming in from fundementalist cristians.  Given that they have a wedge strategy going on, I don’t think scientists of any descrption would be well advised to adopt a “wedge-shaped invagination strategy”.

[ Edited: 21 July 2007 01:39 PM by narwhol ]
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Posted: 21 July 2007 03:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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We also have to consider the alternatives to peer-review. Sure, work that radically challenges the dominant model may have trouble working its way into some journals, though it usually gets out there eventually anyway. But without peer-review, no one with the knowledge and expertise to really understand the flaws in a faulty argument gets to comment on it before publication. And once such an argument is published, it get an aura of legitimacy from that that makes it harder to root out the bad ideas. This is how much of alternative medicine gets promoted. So while not flawless, I think peer-review is the best game going.

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Posted: 02 August 2007 10:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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of course, nothing is without flaws. but without peer review we would have alot of nonsense passed on as legit. the idea of a science journal publishing something on the Mayan prophecy for 2012 as if it was worthy would be disturbing

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