Talk:Peer review

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Sound science

Journal articles are not "based on sound science". Rather they are science. They are professional reports on the research conducted by scientists, including (but not limited to) experiments performed.

One would naturally expect that the most interesting journal article would be something which adds to scientific knowledge. Confirming what we already know, while it may be useful some of the time, is usually boring.

If anyone has information which contradicts the McIntyre quote, I hope they will provide it. But not as unsourced opinion, because that is not encyclopedic: that's bias. --Ed Poor Talk 12:30, 3 July 2007 (EDT)

They're not science until they're widely accepted. This is why Evolution is science while Intelligent Design isn't (one of the major reasons, at least). After something is published, there is still more than oppurtunity to smash it to pieces. In fact, this is a great way of beginning to capture a Ph.D., by refuting something or proving counter-example to something.
The McIntyre quote doesn't deserve a contradiction. It's laughable. I'd get into an edit war over this with you, but it's not worth my time; you'd just have the page locked and have me banned. Stryker 12:36, 3 July 2007 (EDT)
Sorry, I don't see the connection between these two paragraphs. Everything you say in the first seems okay, but then you go off on a tangent about something being "laughable". What connection do you see here? --Ed Poor Talk 12:43, 3 July 2007 (EDT)

Publishing criteria

We need to clarify whether peer review means that an article has been certified as correct or whether it just means that it looks plausible enough to be published - and that the real checking begins when scientists attempt to replicate the results.

In other words, where does scientific due diligence begin? --Ed Poor Talk 12:23, 3 July 2007 (EDT)

This is a straw man. Nothing is ever "correct" in science, in the sense you mean. Everything is limited by the accuracy of our measuring devices and our ability to theorize and conceptual the subjects. Having replicable results is crucial in something becoming widely accepted. If something is not replicable, it would likely be disputed, and the original researchers will be able to improve their work.
Ed, I also suggest you remove that quote from Climateaudit. I can't access the page now at work (it's blocked), but from what I recall, it is not an objective source. Stryker 12:27, 3 July 2007 (EDT)
This is not the place to argue about the Philosophy of science. I suggest you start that article yourself! :-)
If you plan to stick around, I suggest you form the habit of checking what another person means before attempting to rebut. Your "Nothing is" statement is unrelated to what McIntyre was saying.
I do agree about having replicable results. Please write something about the Reproducibility of scientific results. Don't worry about the fragmentation or scattering of articles. I'll merge them together, if need be.
If you want the Climateaudit quote removed, please provide a reason other than you can't access the page now. --Ed Poor Talk 12:37, 3 July 2007 (EDT)


I added this: Peer review is no guarantee of "correctness." It simply means that an article has met certain criteria to be published, including a high quality of work, is not plagiarized, and is based on sound science. Science does not quantify "correctness" and does not "prove" anything, given the un-overcomable limitations of our measuring devices and perceptions. What is "correct" today could be shown to be radically different in the future.

Please explain how this is POV, while your assertion that journals suppress challenges to established science isn't. Have you even read a scientific journal? Journals gain their reputation on challenging the established scientific establishment. People win Nobel prizes for challenging the scientific establishment. People become famous for challenging the scientific establishment. However, this is only the case when they're based on reality and can be demonstratively proven. Perhaps the reason that the vast majority of journals refuse to publish studies attemptign to disprove global climate change is because those studies are shallow, pathetic excuses for scientific work?

I strongly suggest you refrain from promulgating your opinions on the way science is performed until you take part in scientific research. Stryker 12:32, 3 July 2007 (EDT)

Corruption in the process

Articles which challenged AGW have been omitted from scientific journals on the ground that a paper which points out flaws in the prevailing theory would "not be of interest" to the scientific community the journal serves. This is obvious nonsense, but more than one journal has gotten away with it.

Also, their is the incestuous effect of passing around a paper about a controversial new theor only to supporters of that theory. Anyone with an ounce of sense in their head would realize that supporters would tend to harbor (at least unconscious) bias in favor of the theory, making their "review" utterly useless. The hockey stick graph is a case in point. --Ed Poor Talk 08:27, 3 December 2009 (EST)

Can we write a better header?

I just found this article for the first time, and am a little non-plussed by the first sentence - not because I disagree with this statement, mind you, but because nowhere in the article is there an actual definition of what peer review actually is.

We need to find a way to either make this definition inclusive -- after all, journals from all academic fields (including music) use peer review -- or else, this should be reworked into an essay as to why peer review is a problem.

Any suggestions? JDWpianist 08:38, 3 December 2009 (EST)

The definition favored by Wikipedia is of a particular sort of prepublication review which can be credibly said to produce reliable scientific knowledge (or at least consensus science). It has nothing to do with the actual, real-world purpose of independent review: i.e., to subject results to the scrutiny of other equally knowledgeable people who can and will expose any any errors in the work.
If you are promoting an ideology, then peer review would be unrelated to finding errors; ideology is by definition something that is promoted, not something which is compared against reality or checked for accuracy and correctness. That is why the president of Harvard was forced to resign when he questioned feminist ideology. He dared to propose that scientists rigorously test the feminist assumption that difference in academic success in math-related fields was due primarily (or only) to anti-female prejudice and discrimination.
Real scientists welcome review of their work. Having others check your work is the highest compliment anyone can pay you. It means what you are doing is important, and might even be true. The science works, the only way you can find out if a hypothesis or theory is worthwhile is to try like the dickens to disprove it (see falsification). You try as hard as you can to prove the theory false, and if you fail then you can say there is a degree of confidence in the idea. (Note that an idea which cannot possible be proved false, no matter what tests are done, is not science. If you assert such an idea, while saying that you'll continue to hold the idea no matter what counterexamples are shown you, then whatever you doing it's not science.
Anyway, we need to distinguish between (a) the kind of independent checking done by experts who help advance scientific knowledge by weeding out mistaken ideas and (b) the business of handing out papers to the editor's cronies, who might share his biases and give an article a pass when it doesn't deserve it or give him a reason to spike it even if it deserves to be published.
For nearly a dozen years, I have seen abuse of the peer review process by supporters of global warming and opponents of DDT. We need to expose these abuses, by comparing them to the way science is actually supposed to work. --Ed Poor Talk 19:46, 5 December 2009 (EST)
Eloquently put, and I can sympathize with this viewpoint, although I don't follow science journals enough (or have any kind of ability to judge their quality) to have an opinion about much of what you wrote. Sure, all of these concerns belong in the article, but the header itself gives no definition of peer-review which satisfies the basic encyclopedic curiosity of a person wanting to understand the subject. That, it seems to me, is what a header should do.
Peer-review is a basic fact of life for academics, and for all its flaws, it's a better check on academic rigor than that of book publishers, which typically chooses titles based on marketability. I can only speak for my field on this one, but I see peer-review working pretty robustly in music journals. Does that mean that they're not susceptible to fads, or that I've never been amazed at how wrong-headed an article has been? Of course not, on both counts. But I'm also not alone when I vehemently disagree, and the same journals happily print well-written rebuttals by other experts. But I've never been able to complain about the basic quality and academic soundness.
That's what I think is missing from CP's discussion. At least based on my experience, I disagree that peer-review is meant to correct someone's work, or to catch subtle errors. It's possible to have an academically-sound article that is dead wrong, and it's not the job of peer-review to decide that. If it's sound, original, and adds something thought-provoking to the dialogue, it will likely get printed, and it's up to the readers to decide if it's convincing or not. While it may seem that the same circle of authors gets published over-and-over, that's because reputation matters, not because it's some good-old-boy's network. If someone has done a lot of excellent work in a particular specialized field, they are more likely to get published without much difficulty. If someone is new to the circle, but does good and original work, the peer-review process will likely give them the legitimacy that helps them build a reputation, and more importantly, to become a vital part of the dialogue.
In short, I wish this article didn't poison the well from the first sentence. There's a wisdom to the peer-review process, and the criticisms you mention would be much more effective if this article explained the benefits, and then gave specific cases of abuse rather than bald allegations of bias which are unprovable. JDWpianist 17:53, 6 December 2009 (EST)
Okay, let's work on it together. Please help me contrast "science" peer review with other types of peer review in academia, such as in the humanities. --Ed Poor Talk 20:40, 6 December 2009 (EST)