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Thread: Peer Review queries

  1. #1 Peer Review queries 
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    Hello... I'd like to know a few things about peer reviewing.

    I read a lot of things on the internet but I like to get several sources of information to back things up.

    SO...

    Peer reviewing.

    Do date - as far as I am aware... it is the best way of giving people information on a particular subject (Scientific).

    From what I have read on various sites...

    -Reviewing is anonymous.
    -The writer of the report is assumed to have been honest throughout.
    (To mean... background research is assumed to be correct rather than the reviewers doing all the research themselves- for obvious reasons.)

    Now.. What I'd like to know is.. What are the problems with peer reviewing?

    I've read that one thing is ...political motivation can prevent a report from being published maybe not throughout the world but in 1 country.. (I guess that's natural - publishing something wouldn't be possible if the government don't want you to publish it.)

    Can anyone confirm that.. or agree with it?

    And can anyone tell me what other problems with peer reviewing???


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  3. #2 Re: Peer Review queries 
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    Quote Originally Posted by sromag
    Hello... I'd like to know a few things about peer reviewing.

    I read a lot of things on the internet but I like to get several sources of information to back things up.

    SO...

    Peer reviewing.

    Do date - as far as I am aware... it is the best way of giving people information on a particular subject (Scientific).

    From what I have read on various sites...

    -Reviewing is anonymous.
    -The writer of the report is assumed to have been honest throughout.
    (To mean... background research is assumed to be correct rather than the reviewers doing all the research themselves- for obvious reasons.)
    Generally true. Depending on the publication, they can also be double blind, meaning the author of the reviewed paper might also be anonymous.

    Now.. What I'd like to know is.. What are the problems with peer reviewing?
    It's slow. The process I went through several times took more than six months--if you look at current papers in atmospheric science it still takes months between review, review and acceptance.

    Depending on the publication, the editor, who guides the review process, might not have a good pool of potential reviewers. The end result is a paper could get through that's fundamentally flawed but never really was reviewed by peer--but by someone else not really qualified.

    The opposite sometimes happens. Some fields are so narrow that anonymity is unrealistic. This is compounded by the time it takes because most research, particularly in open fields (e.g. meteorology or climate) the parts of the research have been made available in less formal formats, like conferences or letters to editors or been communicated to other subject areas via emails etc.

    I've read that one thing is ...political motivation can prevent a report from being published maybe not throughout the world but in 1 country..
    Probably not much of a problem as some would like to claim especially in relatively open fields. A parallel concern exist about business driven research--where a drug maker might not publish negative results--but I don't know how serious a problem this is.


    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
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  4. #3  
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    Thanks for the quick reply Lynx.

    That's really interesting....

    So who actually distributes the reports? I mean.. for example... In the USA.. if someone prepared a report for someone like NIST.... would they distribute it to the 'peers' for review?

    Or would someone else? After all.. if for some reason, the report discredits the government in some way - god forbid - then NIST are actually a government agency so the government could prohibit NIST or similar agency from fair reporting...
    (In extreme circumstances)

    How can impartiality be guaranteed?
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  5. #4 Peer-review,.... 
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    It seems like you are talking about review of governemental agency reports or scienctific studies related specifically to certain legislative/regulatory topics?

    I can only speak to peer review in terms of journal publication in my feild, but here it is.

    In terms of the assumption that the authors background review is correct/sufficient, this is generally not the case in real science. It is a place that reviewers will look for (and usually find) holes. They are generally familiar off-the-cuff with the recent, pertinent literature and will notice if you aren't. It damages your credibility and may make your results less valid. It is super embarassing when you realize you have left out seminal literature in your background reading. If you are talking about agencies or politicians "review" of agencies/corporations "reports" then yeah, they probably do assume that the background research is legit, because they are asshats.

    Theoretically, the reviewers are anonomous, but if the paper kicks back for revision you can sometimes tell who the reviewer is from the criticism. Everone has thier own pet opinion on some subject. Additionally, there might be methods/protocols that are in vouge or trendy that you did not include in your analysis. This is lame, but can result in you not getting published. This is what may constitute "political" factors in academic feilds,.....but I am guessing this is not what you meant.

    I agree with Lynx on the comments that it takes flipping forever and also that if the publisher doesn't have a pool of reviewers that are in the feild crap papers can get published (also, good papers can get rejected, because the reviewers aren't really qualified).

    Usually the evaluating agency or journal (like FDA for a drug report or blahmedicaljournal for academic papers) will send the manusqript for review and return the commentary to the writter.

    Peer review has its problems especially in the governmental agency/ corporate reports area. But in reality, it's probably better than one person deciding what is "worthy"
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  6. #5  
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    oh. That's so interesting. Now I've known it!
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  7. #6  
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    Thanks Phylogurl

    That really is very interesting.

    It's given me some good information.

    Yes, you are right... I'm interested in governmental agency reports but what you said about your own field was also informative.

    The thing is... I know that peer review reporting is the best method we currently have of determining whether some information (scientific) is correct or not...

    I'm also aware that in the light of new information.. that can be superseded.. e.g. in the case of the MMR vaccine (in the UK - don't know about other countries)

    AND I've also seen pretty big scandals/fraud cases - such as that of Jan Hendrik Schon, so I knew it wasn't perfect.

    I think what really interests me here is that you're showing me some potential holes in the governmental agency way of reviewing...

    So it makes me wonder....

    Hypothetical situation
    If government have some political interest in keeping something quiet - surely... they would be able to prevent a report from being issued or even force through a report THEY want (through one of its agencies).

    Assuming noone from another country can publish a similar report, could they do that ??? (using any force at their disposal)

    From what you are telling me and from common sense regarding how some governments work .... I can see how that could happen.. in fact, I can see how it would work in some countries.
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