Joseph Farman: the end of peer review?

Joseph Farman argues that the character of peer review in scientific publishing has changed drastically for the worse.

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You don’t need many friends, as it were, old pals to let through papers these days. I mean, I’ve never really forgiven the science community for it suggesting to journals that they ask authors for names of people who could review it. Now I know science is a very narrow field these days, and it must save an awful lot of time if people play the game properly and say, ‘Well so and so knows about this, why don’t you ask him to review it?’ But it’s got now out of hand, you’ve got to the stage where you’re asking your friends to do it and your friends simply scrawl something, saying, ‘This is a good paper, please publish it.’ That’s not peer review. Peer review means you’ve looked through it, you’ve gone through the details, you’re convinced there’s not a mistake in it. As far as you can see the data is good, and okay. Now you may not like that paper at that stage, but you’re not entitled to reject it because you don’t like it. If you want to reject it, you have to point out there’s a serious error which needs to be addressed before you can go on from that stage. And, you know, that’s what peer review used to be. It used to be that you had to write enough information in the paper for an outsider to be able, if necessary, to duplicate what you’ve done and see if he gets the same answer. That’s what peer review is meant to be. It’s not that anymore. It’s an absolute scandal, frankly.
  • Interviewee Joseph Farman
  • Duration 00:01:30
  • Copyright British Library Board
  • Interviewer Paul Merchant
  • Date of interview 12/13/2010
  • Shelfmark C1379/07

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