The nature of peer-review

I don’t know if any readers of Petrona have the least interest in the peer-review system, but if so, you might like to take a look at an article called Working double-blind, which was one of the editorials in Nature this week (7 Feb issue), reproduced on our Peer to Peer blog.  At time of writing, there are 40 comments to this article after a couple of days (actually 43, but 3 of them are mine). Many of the people commenting, who are scientists, feel that the ‘single blind’ peer-review system, in which the reviewer knows who wrote the paper but in which the author does not know the identity of the reviewer (unless the reviewer chooses to reveal it), is biased. They would prefer, variously, a ‘double-blind’ system, in which the reviewer does not know the authors’ names, or an open system, in which everyone knows everyone’s names – there are variants.

Well, this may all seem pretty arcane, but careers depend on getting one’s paper published in a "high-impact" journal, so to a scientist it is a very important question.

2 thoughts on “The nature of peer-review

  1. Fascinating article. I used to work for the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and this was such a big deal. Thanks for pointing me in that direction.

  2. Frank Wilson recently linked to an article by Alexander Cockburn, of all people, that seeks to debunk the belief that global warming has man-made causes, in part by noting how such a belief serves corporate interests in the rich world. More relevant to your post is Cockburn’s brushing aside of “peer-reviwed science.” His argument on that count is flawed. Whether it is also inaccurate, I don’t know. Here’s the article: http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/reviewofbooks_article/4357
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