Peer Review

Discussion in 'Creation vs. Evolution' started by Helen, Jul 1, 2003.

  1. Helen

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    Received this in an email this morning. My reaction? Not even counting my husband, after I have seen some very qualified work by several very qualified authors rejected -- my reaction is a loud AMEN!


    From at the ISCID site. The full paper is available at http://www.iscid.org/papers/Tipler_PeerReview_070103.pdf


    Refereed Journals: Do They Insure Quality or Enforce Orthodoxy?

    by Frank J. Tipler

    Abstract- The notion that a scientific idea cannot be considered intellectually respectable until it has first appeared in a "peer" reviewed journal did not become widespread until after World War II. Copernicus's heliocentric system, Galileo's mechanics, Newton's grand synthesis -- these ideas never appeared first in journal articles. They appeared first in books, reviewed prior to publication only by their authors, or by their authors' friends. Even Darwin never submitted his idea of evolution driven by natural selection to a journal to be judged by "impartial" referees. Darwinism indeed first appeared in a journal, but one under the control of Darwin's friends. And Darwin's article was completely ignored. Instead, Darwin made his ideas known to his peers and to the world at large through a popular book: On the Origin of Species. I shall argue that prior to the Second World War the refereeing process, even where it existed, had very little effect on the publication of novel ideas, at least in the field of physics. But in the last several decades, many outstanding physicists have complained that their best ideas -- the very ideas that brought them fame -- were rejected by the refereed journals. Thus, prior to the Second World War, the refereeing process worked primarily to eliminate crackpot papers. Today, the refereeing process works primarily to enforce orthodoxy. I shall offer evidence that "peer" review is NOT peer review: the referee is quite often not as intellectually able as the author whose work he judges. We have pygmies standing in judgment on giants. I shall offer suggestions on ways to correct this problem, which, if continued, may seriously impede, if not stop, the advance of science.
     
  2. InHim2002

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    does this diatribe against the peer review process mean that Barrys latest paper has also been rejected by the journals he submitted it to?
     
  3. The Galatian

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    Has the progress of science been slower or faster since peer review became the norm?

    Perhaps that would help us decide whether it's a good thing or not.
     
  4. Helen

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    no
     
  5. aefting

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    Here is a LINK to an article that explains why creation scientists have a hard time getting published. I think there really is a bias out there.

    That being said, I do belive that there is great benefit from getting one's work "peer-reviewed." I used to work in the intelligence community and I had my work reviewed quite extensively before it was published internally. Without exception the process weeded out errors and made the final product much better. It also helped maintain an accurate body of knowledge that facilitated the advance our technical capabilities.


    If what a creationist tries to publish is not accurate, by all means get it corrected or reject it; but don't reject it out of hand because simply because of the source.

    Andy
     
  6. Helen

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    Andy, the author of that article is not a creationist! That is what makes it interesting. It was Tippler and Barrow who wrote on the Anthropic Principle.

    It's not just creationists. This rejection has happened to many, many people. Some are cranks. Some are not. But I do agree with you about the value of having others who know what you are talking about review your work. Barry sends his stuff off to about four people consistently and often more. He is currently working on a correction right now that was given him in one area of his recent paper.

    I personally get a number of papers for 'pre-review' from authors I have worked with before. They know I know their work and am conversant in their respective fields. Sometimes awkwardness in presentation is all I have to help out with. But there have been times when I see an error in logic or even in facts as they are presented and the opportunity to work with the author does help the article. This, however, is quite different from journal peer-review which has quite a different attitude about it for the most part. Again, this is not a matter of creation, but has been a problem for a number of folk who have nothing to do with creation.

    Tippler's presentation of what is happening is right. And it does need to be corrected.

    Galatian -- I'd be really curious to know in what ways you think peer review has helped the progress of science. What science? What progress would you attribute to peer review? In what ways do you think the RATE of progress has increased from, say, the nineteenth century's progress in the same fields?

    Thank you.
     
  7. The Galatian

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    I was just asking a question. But at least in the examples I know about, a lot of people were saved a lot of embarassment by a referee who sent the manuscript back for revision of obvious errors.

    When one or more knowledgable people look over your work before publication, it definitely helps.

    Well, I'm mostly familiar with biology, mainly bacteriology. But it seems to work for all science.

    Hmmm... most of what we know of bacteriology has been learned in the last few decades.

    Almost everything we know about genetics has been so.

    I think most active sciences are like that.
     
  8. Peter101

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    &gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;It's not just creationists. This rejection has happened to many, many people. Some are cranks. Some are not.&lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;

    Rejections happen for many reasons. But there are thousands of scientific journals in the world, and getting past the peer review is not a problem for intelligent, hard working scientists, even if they are from little known organizations. Most people with an earned Ph.D. can easily get published in some peer reviewed journal. In the state university where I went to graduate school, it was common for graduate students to have 2 or 3 journal publications even before earning their Ph.D. Of course it is well nigh impossible to publish a revolutionary paper without some prior record of publications and without the normal educational background usually associated with major discoveries. It hurts one's credibility a tad not to have paid your dues, so to speak.
     
  9. mdkluge

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    I think Tipler's article might best be read in the spirit of one claiming that the legal system is broken. Almost everyone deplores some important aspect of our legal system, but almost none would abolish the system. This includes most people who flatly say that the system is broken.

    So it is with Tipler, who proposes, at the end of the day, only some modest reforms in the current system. Much of his article concerns matters other than peer-review, and much of his material on peer review is nostalgia for the old German system which even Tipler realizes is impracticable in today's world of massive scientific publication. I hope that some Journals will adopt, at least as an experiment, his suggestion of a two-tiered refereeing syste. I think it cannot be generally employed because the experts in his second tier would likely be inundated with papers rejected by the first tier, and most experts would not find reviewing papers rejected by other referees good use of their time. But the suggestion is worth trying on a small scale.

    At the end of the day, though, Tipler says little or nothing about any work of significance that was ultimately rejected in the peer review process. Delay yes. Annoyance definitely, but his examples were eventually published.

    Some of what Tipler wrote was frankly misleading. Many examples came from Journals such as Nature, Physical Review Letters and Science. General readers might not know that those Journals select articles not only on the basis of scientific soundness, but also use criteria of general scientific interest, and likliness to be THE correct, novel solutions to some problem of general interest. Those presteige Journals, in short, aim to publish the sexiest articles available. Scientific correctness is only a part of that. An author who wants to ensure publication of an article simply does not submit it to one of those Journals. Submission to one of those Journals implies belief that one's article is of extraordinary scientific importance. Naturally, often others (including referees) disagree. Perhaps some young, naive scientists do not know this and have wasted their own time fruitlessly pushing their own articles for publication in one of those presteige Journals. In any case examples from those Journals cannot seriously be considered typical or representative of scientific Journals as a whole.

    And of course none of this has anything at all to do with rejection of Barry Setterfield's paper. Tipler, at least, dealt with patently merritorious material being rejected for a time. Setterfield's material, in contrast, has been rejected universally, and we can all now judge for ourselves whether or not it has any scientific merrit. It is difficult to see how any conscientious referee could have accepted a paper that, say, mistakes Delta( 1/lambda) for 1/Delta Lambda.
     
  10. Elena

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    Interesting article, but I am not so sure that it is truly representative of the peer-review system. I think that there may be cases where good innovative science is rejected because of some bias and some very poor science is accepted because it is favored by the reviewer. However, in most cases I would say the comments of 2-3 reviewers will portray a fairly accurate picture of the quality of the article. I find it a bit over the top to claim that innovative articles or articles that challenge orthodoxy are not published as a rule. The pages of Science and Nature would be empty. I should also note (as did Mark Kluge) that Science and Nature reject most articles because they are looking specifically for articles that challenge orthodoxy. I am a Christian and also a scientist and I simply don't find these types of conspiracy theories compelling. That is not to say that it never happens, but it is clearly not the rule.

    EF
     
  11. Paul of Eugene

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    Radically new ideas will always have a rough time getting accepted, even if they are correct. That is the nature of the game. It can't be helped. For every radical idea that is true there are a hundred radical ideas out there clamoring for attention that are just nutty. That is unfortunately the human condition. Radical ideas that happen to be true have a history of becoming accepted only eventually and after a struggle. That's just the way it is. Can't be helped.
     

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