Tag Archives: Peer reviews

When to trust (and not to trust) peer reviewed science

When to trust (and not to trust) peer reviewed science

The words “published in a peer reviewed journal” are sometimes considered as the gold standard in science. But any professional scientist will tell you that the fact an article has undergone peer review is a long way from an ironclad guarantee of quality. To know what science you should really trust you need to weigh the subtle […] … learn more→

Scientific peer review: an ineffective and unworthy institution

Scientific peer review: an ineffective and unworthy institution

Given the entirely appropriate degree of respect that science has for data, the ongoing discussion of peer review is often surprisingly data-free and underlain by the implicit assumption that peer review – although in need of improvement – is indispensable. The thing is, the peer review of scientific reports is not only without documented value […] … learn more→

I call bullshit on pointless ‘hope labour’

I call bullshit on pointless ‘hope labour’

About 30% of my work week is classified as ‘service’: work that supports others in the community, such as sitting on committees, writing reviews and references, consulting on problems and so on. As a result of this higher than usual level of service work, the sheer number and range of things I do in a […] … learn more→

Bland peer review needs a pinch of salt

Bland peer review needs a pinch of salt

Research funding agencies face a daunting task when deciding which proposed research project to fund. It takes a great deal of expertise to distinguish between what investor Warren Buffett once called the “three I’s”: innovators, imitators and idiots. The anonymous peer review system that has emerged as the universal and unquestioned tool for assessing research […] … learn more→

‘Unfortunately, our referees are not up to the job’

‘Unfortunately, our referees are not up to the job’

Summer. Time for a travail guide. Peer review – the inescapable destination of academics’ intellectual progeny at vacation time – is an inhospitable shore: its beaches mine-strewn, its entertainments dubious, its climate dodgy, its sights depressingly familiar, its pleasant surprises few. Its inhabitants speak an impenetrable argot and often respond, when visitors make honest efforts […] … learn more→

What did that peer reviewer actually mean?

What did that peer reviewer actually mean?

We all know that real estate agents write in code. Renovation potential means it’s a dump. First home buyer’s dream means it’s a dump. Original condition means it’s a dump. Now, journal reviewers have codes too. You may find that sometimes you get reviews where it isn’t immediately obvious what you are being asked to […] … learn more→

Peer review is in crisis, but should be fixed, not abolished

Peer review is in crisis, but should be fixed, not abolished

This year three Nobel Prize-winning biologists broke with tradition and published their research directly on the internet as so-called preprints. Their motivation? Saving time. Traditionally, scientific studies are published in peer-reviewed journals, which require other scientists to evaluate submitted research to determine its soundness for publication. Peer review is supposed to be a good thing, […] … learn more→

How to remove bias from peer review

The ugly side of peer review was on full display last week when a scientific paper was rejected for reasons that smacked of sexism. Two female authors had submitted a paper to a journal that is part of the open-access PLOS family. A negative decision was made based on a single review stating, “It would […] … learn more→

Reviewing a journal article – are you Jekyll or Hyde?

So you’ve been sent a paper to review. Before you even start thinking about what to do, and before you start thinking about reading beyond the abstract, it’s a good idea to check the stance you are about to take. As an editor I see a lot of reviews. Many of them are productive and […] … learn more→

Just your initials, please! Subverting sexist biases in peer-review

Recently I posted a column about the rather embarrassing fuss some people made when they discovered the phenomenally successful Facebook page “I Fucking Love Science” is created and curated by a woman, Elise Andrew. This fired a couple of interesting discussions. One of the tweets I received about this came from Sydney University astronomer, science […] … learn more→