Peer Review Anonymity on Trial

Ferland Louis H. ferlandl at ERE.UMontreal.CA
Mon Jan 15 01:43:34 EST 1996

On Sun, 14 Jan 1996 U27111 at UICVM.CC.UIC.EDU wrote:

> Date: Sun, 14 Jan 1996 04:02:03 CST
> From:U27111 at UICVM.CC.UIC.EDU
> To: bioforum at
> Subject: Re: Peer Review Anonymity on Trial <gregoryh-1201961235120001 at> <96013.004838U27111 at> <gregoryh-1301961643430001 at>
> (BEREZIN or KATHY, I can't recall)

> >> Just think... what if the majority of people in science actually
> >> worked towards solving problems and discovering unknowns instead
> >> of where their next grant is coming from and how many journals
> >> they have published in this year?


> >     You do a disservice to many scientists who are interested in
> >discovery and improving the health and well-being of people.  Is
> >it a crime because they also have to worry about where they are
> >going to get money to do research and to live on?


> Science is doing a terrible disservice to the people they are
> attempting to help... when worrying about money *overshadows*
> worrying about the quality work?  That was my point.  And yes, in
> many cases... it can very well be a crime, depending upon exactly
> how they solve such problems?
> And yes, it's up to us to fix this so it is not the case. That the
> *best* in our field get rewarded with monies and the worst gets
> phased out... leaving more monies for those who are indeed the best
> at what they do.

But, who do you suggest decides who's the best and who's to be phased 
out? (see also my next comments, below). I don't think bad apples CAN be 
identified except in the most obvious cases of DEMONSTRATED fraud, etc. 
And I don't think the *best* ones can be identified at all (except, 
perhaps, by a utopian peer-review process). (Please note the word 
"utopian" and do not consider I am suggesting the present peer-review 
system qualifies.)

> Thus, good labs wouldn't have to worry about monies over quality of
> work.
> >If you have any better ideas of how scientists can get the money
> >to do this, I'd sure be interested in hearing them.
> I've said it over and over again in this thread.
> Standardize the field... certify techs and PhDs, and accredited
> labs!

PhDs ARE certified! This is what it means to have acquired the right to 
write those letters after your name. Same thing with techs: you go to 
school, you SUCCEED and get the degree, the university/college/whatever 
certifies it is so by issuing a diploma. You suggest some OTHER body be 
endowed the power to rescind the validity of this assessment of 

> And it shouldn't cost all that much more money to set this up in
> the first place.
> We already have existing organizations/societies which can take on
> this added role.  Of assuring that laboratories meet certain
> criteria and standards and that peoples are certified for what it
> is they are doing.


Two quick questions:

1) How many people do you know show up drunk for their driving test exam?
2) How many drunk drivers are there on our roads?

Now, do you still think additional certification will solve ANY part of 
the issue at hand? 

Also, I'm NOT SURE AT ALL that the cost of implementing such certification 
for every individual AND every research group (in the world?) (which 
Berezin wants to be limited in size to three people (!), see earlier 
postings, though he later conceded he would accept 5 or 6 people under 
exceptional circumstances if I recall) would be anything but an extremely 
heavy and costly process.

> [snip]


> Self-policing is a myth... nobody, within the scientific community
> cared to look into this and thus left it for those outside the
> community to determine.


So, again, who do you suggest carry out the "certification process" you 
suggest? How *can* it be implemented other than by people themselves 
qualified? Would this not be a case of self-policing? And who qualifies 
the examinators? They would be the result of self-policing, too, because 
no others than peers can judge scientific or technical quality.

Dr. Louis H. Ferland
Centre de Recherche, Hotel-Dieu de Montreal
Dept de Nutrition, Universite de Montreal
Phone: (514) 843-2757     FAX: (514) 843-2719

More information about the Bioforum mailing list