Eric Worrall writes: The Guardian, a green UK newspaper, has published a fascinating article about the shortcomings of peer review – and praised the growing new model of open review, in which papers are pre-published on the internet, giving anyone an opportunity to comment. Naturally the Guardian author was not talking about global warming, which in Guardian circles remains settled science which cannot be questioned, but the point is well made, and well worth reading.
According to The Guardian;
“some scientists would prefer … that results are announced only after they have passed peer review, ie been checked by experts and published in a reputable journal.
There are many reasons why this will no longer wash. Those days of deference to patrician authority are over, and probably for the better. We no longer take on trust what we are told by politicians, experts and authorities. There are hazards to such scepticism, but good motivations too. Few regret that the old spoonfeeding of facts to the ignorant masses has been replaced with attempts to engage and include the public.
But science itself has changed too. Information and communications technologies mean that not only is it all but impossible to keep hot findings under wraps, but few even try. In physics in particular, researchers put their papers on publicly accessible pre-print servers before formal publication so that they can be seen and discussed, while specialist bloggers give new claims an informal but often penetrating analysis. This enriches the scientific process and means that problems that peer reviewers for journals might not notice can be spotted and debated. Peer review is imperfect anyway – a valuable check but far from infallible, and notoriously conservative.”
The Guardian article then discusses the super luminal neutrino issue from 2011, a successful example of the application of open review, and provides this gem of a conclusion;
“How much more informative it [open review] was than the tidy fictions that published papers often become.”
Related: Recently, The Open Atmospheric Society was announced, with a goal of open peer review.