The public has a perception that peer reviewed medical journals are held in the highest regard in terms of scientific accuracy. So often we hear the question, “Did the study come from a reputable peer reviewed journal?” on the assumption that something reviewed and authorized as ‘true and correct’ by the peers of the writer, must have a bigger, better stamp of authority.
Medical History through the ages, has much to teach us about how the view of peers can be utterly wrong, to the cost of both mothers and children. Oliver Wendell Holmes is only one example. To those who study medical literature, problems with peer review is nothing new.
Much to Inside Vaccine’s amusement, the sanctity of peer review received another truth-review, when the Scientist http://www.the-scientist.com/article…7601 published an article expressing more of their concerns about the ways in which peer review processes, work against “science” being the primary focus of science publications.
While considered by the public, to be gold standard medical practice, scientists openly discuss the peer review process as a broken system, plagued with the medical equivalent of nepotistic turf protection.
While the Scientist’s article is interesting, other scientists spell out the problems in more precise detail: http://www.ipscell.com/?s=i-hate-your-paper-dr-no-and-the-editors-that-are-ruining-peer-review showing that obstruction can come in the form of editors who turn a blind eye to unreasonable reviews from competitors, or friends of competitors. Reviewers themselves can make suggestions which are either ludicrous, make no sense, or show that they don’t understand the topic (and therefore consider the study worthless). Then there are the reviewers who suggest the researcher obtains better laboratory materials from them, and promptly refuses to supply on request, or doesn’t reply when asked. The list of ways in which peer review can be undermined, is legion, and very entertaining. Particularly the one about the reviewers who approve papers no matter the errors, because they know the person they just reviewed will probably review their work the next time around. Read more