Peer Review analogous with Democracy

While peer review is the method for respected scientific journals for judging the validity of scientific work, it is indeed a flawed process. In an article published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, they discuss the process of peer review. They say that “its defects are easier to identify than its attributes. Yet it shows no sign of going away.” They outline the major flaws of peer review.

  • First, they discuss the expense of  the peer review process. Multiple science experts must review the prospective article, causing them to divert time away from their actual researching responsibilities to something tertiary. While the reviewers are not typically paid directly, their time is very valuable.
  • Second, they review process is very inconsistent in its results. Because the reviewer has the liberty to express his/her opinion, there could be very mixed reviews. I have heard the person I do research for discuss papers that have been rejected by saying, “We will just resubmit and hopefully get different reviewers.” This is a clear example on inconsistency of the review process as he expects to receive different results for the same work.
  • Thirdly, if the reviewer is in direct competition with the paper’s author, there could be some animosity and a desire to slow down the publishing process for the author. Since the reviewer gives feedback to the editor on whether the paper is valid or not, they could tarnish the name of the author and the science in question out of spite for the author.

The article cited can be quoted: “Famously, it (the peer review process) is compared with democracy: a system full of problems but the least worst we have.”


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