Peer Review: Reply to Robison

Gregory R. Harriman gregoryh at
Thu Jan 18 17:11:22 EST 1996

In article
<Pine.SOL.3.91.960118100331.25106A-100000 at mcmail.CIS.McMaster.CA>,
berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA (Alexander Berezin) wrote:

> Hogwash or not, but you may bother to look through
> citations studies which say that about HALF of all
> published papers (peer reviewed, of course) are NEVER
> cited even a single time (and half of the remaining
> are cited just once - often as self-citation).
>   Are this papers silly or not is not critically
> important - most imopratnt is that they are useless
> for all practical purposes (again, some exceptions
> of course may happen, but these are rarities). 

     Even if one agreed with this assertion, it is inconceivable that
doing away with all types of review (anonymous or otherwise) would
decrease, rather than increase, the number of useless papers that are
published.  Without some type of mechanism for ascertaining the quality of
a submitted paper, the inevitable result will be more crap getting

> > Set up an E-journal.  Set up a site which is a central repository
> > or listing of NPR E-papers.  Become a journal editor and institute
> > NPR.  Publish your own papers by the mechanisms listed above.

> Why do you think that I want/need to do any of the above ?
> My reasons for the criticsm of the APR system (and PR in
> general) may be quite different from what you apparently
> believe they are. 

     I have always assumed your reasons were that you had a sincere
interest in improving the scientific process.  Given the severe criticisms
you have expressed previously in regard to peer review, I'd certainly be
interested in knowing what are your true motivations.

Greg Harriman

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