Will bloggers replace the peer reviewers?
May 2nd, 2006

Today’s New York Times Science Times carries an analytical article titled For Science’s Gatekeepers, a Credibility Gap. Still on the gatekeeping digital sidelines are the science bloggers who have thus far not been incorporated into the pre-publication vetting process for new findings. With the many problems outlined, a role for the blogosphere seems overdue – at least to this blogger. These comments in the article introduce an informative analysis of the peer review practice:

Because findings published in peer-reviewed journals affect patient care, public policy and the authors’ academic promotions, journal editors contend that new scientific information should be published in a peer-reviewed journal before it is presented to doctors and the public.

That message, however, has created a widespread misimpression that passing peer review is the scientific equivalent of the Good Housekeeping seal of approval.

Virtually every major scientific and medical journal has been humbled recently by publishing findings that are later discredited. The flurry of episodes has led many people to ask why authors, editors and independent expert reviewers all failed to detect the problems before publication.


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