Corrupted Peer Review

Alexander Berezin berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA
Thu Apr 3 17:07:42 EST 1997


For those who have already overcome the 
fallacy of the Peer Review Myth (and for 
those who still wrestling with themselves on
the issue) a refreshing reading is:

David F. Horrobin, "Peer Review of Grant
Applications: a Harbinger for Mediocrity in
Clinical Research",  Lancet, 1996, 348: 1293-95.

What Horrobin is saying is not, of course, limited 
to clinical research but pertains to the entire
socially corrosive and intellectually bankrupt 
philosophy of "selectivity and enforced excellence" 
perpetuated (in Canada) by NSERC/MRC bureaucracy 
and self-serving, self-appointed panels of their 
so called "experts". 

Some quotes from Horrobin's article:

"Peer review, as at present constituted, cannot
deliver ... the projects which are funded are
[ largely ] those that are fundamentally mediocre 
in the sense that will extend existing lines of 
thought in predictable directions...".

"Peer review ... encourages lying and favours the 
corrupt ... the encouragement of corruption is an 
inevitable consequence of review by expert 
competitors ... [ lengthy detailed argument 
follows ] ... the system encourages the dishonesty 
and elevates the corrupt."

Horrobin than argues that complicated "research 
Councils" (in Canada: NSERC and MRC) should be 
eliminated, and replaced by much more simpler 
agencies, practicing more equtable result-dependent
funding alocation schemes - exactly the same 
what is advocated by CARRF (Canadian Association 
for Responsible Research Funding) for the last 
few years.

Alex Berezin, 
CARRF Secretary  

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