The negatives

by Jennifer Eve Appleton

In contrast to my previous post, here is a run down of a few of the negatives that have become apparent whilst digging into the world of peer review…

1) There are instances where accusations have been made that the reputation of the author is more influential in the judging of a paper than its scientific quality. A good paper by a young inexperienced author may not make the cut however a substandard paper by a well known academic may make it through.

2) Peer review is extremely time consuming and expensive in particular for the top. Journals. The process can take months with back logs af papers requiring reviews, this can in turn hamper researchers plans for future work projects.

3) The final say comes down to the editors, the connection between author and referee. Cases have arisen where the authority has been exploited with some mauscripts being rejected before being viewed by peers.

4) There is evidence that decisions are often judged by country: a US based journal is much more likely to reject non-US papers, whatever the quality.

5) Conflicts of interest cannot be detected easily by the reviewers, such as sources of the research’s funding, ultimately all the peer reviewer can detect is whether the protocols where followed correctly.

6) Whilst and obvious blunders can be detected, determined fraud cannot be detected without reproducing the study.

7) There are no strict ranking systems in place about the worth of the peer review. Journals each have their own unique standard of grading, the level of skill of the individuals involved cannot be measured. In the past, less reputable journals generally had a smaller readership, but the internet has made them just as likely to be accessed and used.


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