4 thoughts on “Peer Review”

  1. As I said in the post about Louise Riofrio’s Kickstarter, the peer review process is completely broken, and the whole Journal system is obsolete.

    With blogging software and Google Scholar, who needs to print and distribute a paper journal? Why not put whatever idea out there for all to see and criticize?

    1. Well, having done both sides of peer review in an engineering field, I have no illusions that it’s a panacea. But the academic journal is the baby in the bathwater — as a researcher I had great difficulty keeping up with any work that was even a short distance from my specialty; the knowledge that my field’s flagship journals and conferences were probably not total dreck was all that made it possible at all.

      If flagship publications can no longer be depended on, the best thing for the community is to fix them, not just throw up our hands and say to researchers, “OK, from now on each of you must winnow the wheat from the chaff all by yourself.”

      Maybe Google Scholar can provide that roll eventually, but I don’t think it’s even in the neighborhood yet.

  2. But does the place a work gets published make any difference anymore? With Google Scholar and the paywall bibliographic databases to which research university libraries subscribe, do you start your search on a new research topic, or keep updated on an ongoing research activity, by scanning the titles and abstracts of that flagship journal?

    One activity I perform more often is to search for the papers of an investigator publishing on a topic of interest. It is rare that all let alone most, let alone more than a few, of the investigator’s work is published in that flagship journal. A prolific scientist or research engineer, which is often (but not always) a sign of that person’s impact, often “publishes all over the place.” And it is not clear to me that this person’s higher quality papers are in the “top” journal and the more minor contributions are in the “junk” journals.

    The bibliographic record supplies evidence that even the top people are not even getting their top work into the top journals with any degree of reliability. It has become a random process.

  3. “If flagship publications can no longer be depended on, the best thing for the community is to fix them”


    How do we force the journals to fire “prestigious” editors when they abuse their power?

    How do you force the powerful in your field to give up their power? Other than by credibly saying “clean this up or we’re just going to ignore your journals”?

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