Electronic Peer Review

Alexander Berezin berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA
Fri Oct 27 17:08:01 EST 1995

On 27 Oct 1995, Sean Eddy wrote:

> In article <Pine.3.89.9510261157.A4425-0100000 at mcmail.CIS.McMaster.CA> berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA (Alexander Berezin) writes:
>   >I suggest that the above idea of "viogrous peer review"
>   >is quite detrimental. All you have to do is to check for
>   >general relevance and post all submissions. The following
>   >short article gives more explanations.
> I think there's a reasonable case to be made for non-anonymous peer
> review. 

The argument for non-anonymous PR was made many times, in 
dozens publications by many people. So, far it never came 
through because of several reasons, not the least the
resistance of the academic publishing system (and mind
you, the interests of scientists and publishers are
not necessarily the same).

> But the idea of *not* peer-reviewing seems to me to be a sure recipe
> for disaster. Look at the average content of unmoderated Usenet
> scientific groups, for instance. I can just see the pseudoscientific
> spams now...

If dismantling of PR will result in a flood of garbage,
this will mean that we (scientists) do produce garbage.
We better learn of this fact than trying to conceal it. 

> In fact, I think abandoning peer review would have the opposite effect
> of what you desire. I read non-reviewed preprints a lot -- but to
> avoid the garbage, 

> I only read preprints from authors I know and
> trust. 

Choice what to read is obviously yours, no one can
decide for you. One of my lady friends reads only "Gone 
for the Wind" for the last 10 years. Personally, if I 
will not touch those authors of whom I never heard
of before, I wan't get too far in (my) science. If you
manage - you should be a magician.  

> Seems to me, there's even more of an "old boy" network involved
> in what preprints get read. (Mind you, I'm a computational biologist,
> not a physicist -- I understand you physicists have a good preprint
> distribution system going, but I don't know how it works.)

Preprint circulation system in physics for all
practical purposes gone out of existence some 15 years
ago. The reasons perhaps deserve a PhD thesis in the 
sociology of science.

Alex Berezin

> --
> - Sean Eddy
> - Dept. of Genetics, Washington University School of Medicine
> - eddy at genetics.wustl.edu

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