Peer review isn’t exactly a sexy topic, but it’s an essential part of academic publishing — and it may need to change a bit to keep up with the times. Peer review is typically a thankless chore that is distributed among academics working in a network of related fields, and sometimes personal politics can enter into the process if the subject matter is obscure enough. Misconduct in peer review doesn’t usually get the same kind of coverage as various journalistic scandals (eg. Rolling Stone, Buzzfeed, etc), but the damages done can be even more significant to society.
- Peer review processes aren’t free of corruption — with some third party agencies offering services that fake reviews or try to improve a paper’s odds of being published in other unsavory ways. The publication system for scientific work doesn’t seem to have a great way to deal with this issue besides retracting (instead of correcting) articles published in error. Dozens of papers have been retracted by BioMed Central recently, but the problems with peer review appear to be much more widespread. [url]
- Some scientific papers are published for a fee — with absolutely no quality control whatsoever. The impressively-titled International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology accepted a paper that consisted of nothing but “Get me off your fucking mailing list” repeated over and over. [url]
- Paying for expedited peer review sounds sketchy, right? Rubriq’s peer-review service promised a review within 3 weeks or your money back — but perhaps these kinds of services should be subject to yet another round of reviews. [url]
- Can publishers try to automate the detection of fake papers and poorly-reviewed articles before they turn into embarrassing mistakes? Artificial intelligence just isn’t that good, but perhaps software will make it harder for people to detect shady predatory publications. [url]
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