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Peer review reviewed

  1. Jun 28, 2006 #1
    The scientific methods as developed by several philologists like Carl Popper provide objective tools for developing new hypothesis and theories. That’s theory though but far from daily practice where subjective elements play a role, making science rather conservative. Apparently it’s very hard to distinguish crackpots and frauds from genuine improvement.

    Not true? How about last year Nobel Price Laureates for medicine?

    http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/2005/press.html

    Notice that general recognition took 23 years from the discovery in 1982 to last year. How many lives could have been saved if that period would have been significant shorter? Why took it so long?

    Bluntly, non scientific, economic motives, the threat against the establishment:

    http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/printmember/mar1bio-1

    Fortunately the medical world has learned from that and Elsevier throws the first stone, reviewing peer review.

    http://www.intl.elsevierhealth.com/journals/mehy/

    Hopefully more will follow.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 28, 2006 #2

    selfAdjoint

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    Quote: "A 'chooser' not a 'changer': choosing to publish what are judged to be the best papers from those submitted".

    In other words the journal is the predjudices of the editor, writ large. How does replacing a small number of gateway individuals with a single one solve the problems of tribal bias?
     
  4. Jun 28, 2006 #3
    Good question, nevertheless, it's a start. After all there is a good reason. If the objective is not to be embarrassed by being on the wrong side, or perhaps in the medical profession as being not responsible for resisting a live saving progress, then perhaps there is hope.

    Perhaps it would also be an idea for the editors to argue why a particular article is good or bad in terms of objective use of the scientific method, avoiding selective use of data, using sound algorithms, etc, etc. Apparently it’s no longer allowed to dismiss it because John Authority et al (1895) have a different opinion which is accepted with a broad consensus.
     
  5. Jun 28, 2006 #4
    Ran into an ancient but very accurate assessment about the reluctance to let go of flawed hypotheses and theories:

    from: Priestly, J., 1769, The History and Present State of Electricity (second edition): J. Dodsley and others, London, p. 420.
     
  6. Jun 29, 2006 #5

    J77

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    I too focus on:

    The editor sees his role as a 'chooser', not a 'changer': choosing to publish what are judged to be the best papers from those submitted.

    Sounds like standard practice to me.

    Editor makes the final decision here, like they would at the moment.

    For example, authors can quite reasonably argue, if they feel justified, against a referee's rejection and ask the editor to make the decision themselves.

    Plus, I certainly wouldn't put Elsevier up there with progress in ethics in publishing.

    Certainly, they produce fine prints. However, I've heard several public remonstrations about their subscriptions; that is, apparently it's unreasonable to buy individual subscriptions. The only cost effective way for libraries is to buy bulk subscriptions, including many titles they may not want.
     
  7. Jul 21, 2006 #6
    Perhaps the best reaction to problems with peer review in the medical profession is to do away with paper journals and publish everything online: let every voice have a say, and let there be the possibility of replying to every article (sort of like this forum, but "more professional"). If you are a doctor, what can it hurt to read lots of articles, even if some are crazy? If you are a layperson and don't know what's bunk and what's not, ask your doctor. If she doesn't know, suspend judgment.

    Of course, the drawback to this is spam, etc. But there are ways to monitor that.

    I fail to see the purpose of peer review when we do away with the limitation of only being able to print so many pages in so many issues per year: if page space is unlimited, there's no need for a select few to censor content -- let the marketplace of medical ideas be like every other free-enterprise marketplace. The good ideas will survive and the bads ones will not stay in circulation. And of course there are ways to keep the quacks from submitting every luny idea -- peer pressure, not peer review.
     
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