Peer Review: Good Science, Bad Science, Pseudoscience-How to Tell the Difference

Peer review is an inherently broken idea. Do they sign non-disclosure agreements that limit the “pilferage” of good ideas from the papers? Peer reviewers can also be incredibly mean and I have no idea, why. Is it the anonymity behind the “double-blind” peer review? If the journals or the desk editors don’t have the expertise to understand the paper then why publish it?

Peer review is a standard process in academic publishing. It’s intended as an objective means of assessing the quality and accuracy of new research. Uninvolved researchers with relevant experience evaluate papers before publication. They consider factors like how well it builds upon pre-existing research or if the results are statistically significant. Peer review should be double-blinded. This means the researcher doesn’t know who is reviewing their work and the reviewer doesn’t know who the researcher is.

Publishers only perform a cursory “desk check” before moving onto peer review. This is to check for major errors, nothing more. They cannot have the expertise necessary to vet the quality of every paper they handle—hence the need for external experts. The number of reviewers and strictness of the process depends on the journal. Reviewers either declare a paper unpublishable or suggest improvements. It is rare for them to suggest publishing without modifications.

via Good Science, Bad Science, Pseudoscience: How to Tell the Difference