On Peer-Review

Michael Nielsen posted today the first part of his look at peer-review: Three myths about scientific peer review:

What’s the future of scientific peer review? The way science is communicated is currently changing rapidly, leading to speculation that the peer review system itself might change. For example, the wildly successful physics preprint arXiv is only very lightly moderated, which has led many people to wonder if the peer review process might perhaps die out, or otherwise change beyond recognition.
I’m currently finishing up a post on the future of peer review, which I’ll post in the near future. Before I get to that, though, I want to debunk three widely-believed myths about peer review, myths which can derail sensible discussion of the future of peer review.
A brief terminological note before I get to the myths: the term “peer review” can mean many different things in science. In this post, I restrict my focus to the anonymous peer review system scientific journals use to decide whether to accept or reject scientific papers.

The article immediately sparked a fiery debate, which also yielded some good links, e.g., The purpose of peer review and Peer Review: The View from Social Studies of Science (pdf).
What do you think?

2 responses to “On Peer-Review

  1. It’s interesting that the commenters on the post don’t seem to distinguish between peer review as a tool for improving individual articles, and peer review as a tool for identifying and validating the best science from the huge pool of scientific literature generated every year. I guess the first purpose really is the most important in a scientist’s daily work, but I feel that the rest of us are generally led to believe that the second purpose is the whole point of the peer review system. I’m sure peer review as proof reading works wonderfully, but the whole “scientific quality” thing is much more uncertain. I’m looking forward to his post about the future of peer review!

  2. An interesting practical guide for peer reviewers is available here http://www.howtopeerreview.com/