Monday, February 23

Peer Review Symposium

Below is an email about a Peer Review Symposium that is to be held. I thought that the quotes and the purpose (which is bolded) of the meeting was interesting:

From: ISPR/KGCM 2009 []
Subject: Invitation to a Symposium on Peer Reviewing

Only 8% members of the Scientific Research Society agreed that "peer review works well as it is". (Chubin and Hackett, 1990; p.192).

"A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision and an analysis of the peer review system substantiate complaints about this fundamental aspect of scientific research." (Horrobin, 2001)

Horrobin concludes that peer review "is a non-validated charade whose processes generate results little better than does chance." (Horrobin, 2001). This has been statistically proven and reported by an increasing number of
journal editors.

"Peer Review is one of the sacred pillars of the scientific edifice" (Goodstein, 2000), it is a necessary condition in quality assurance for Scientific/Engineering publications, and "Peer Review is central to the organization of modern science...why not apply scientific [and engineering] methods to the peer review process" (Horrobin, 2001).

This is the purpose of the International Symposium on Peer Reviewing: ISPR ( being organized in the context of The 3rd International Conference on Knowledge Generation, Communication and Management: KGCM 2009 (, which will be held on July 10-13, 2009, in Orlando, Florida, USA.


  1. Interesting that they say that PR is a NECESSARY condition. This is, in its way both a strong and a weak statement. It's strong because it implies (implausibly I think) that peer review is the ONLY conceivable way of ensuring quality of published research — more precisely, that no system which did not participate in PR would result in quality publications. But it's also weak in regarding it as MERELY a necessary condition: as a condition that must be in place, but which may not alone be sufficient. The existence (and extent) of fraud in science indicates that this weak claim is probably right: just using peer review does not ensure the legitimacy of the materials so vetted.

  2. I agree with Matthew that the statement "peer review is a necessary condition" is implausible. I guess the history and tradition of reviewing ideas and hypothesis (scientific or otherwise) since the Greek is a hard one to shed. Hence we are unable to think of a completely different procedure, though there have been some ideas but they are mostly either variants or fine-tuning of the present peer review system.

    Personally, I think that just as we are learning from this course that a more rational and better decision on research ethics can be achieved with a panel that includes people from various fields so should the candidates for reviewing papers. Obviously a biologist cannot review a physics paper but a biophysicist could review an applied physics paper with particular implication on biology. Unlike the 19th and 20th century the most of the sciences are no longer fundamental and most new emerging fields are inter-disciplinary, thus it makes sense to have reviewers from various field but whose common interests are similar.

  3. I agree that the "necessary condition" statement needs more consideration and explanation. However, I also want to know how one is to apply scientific methods to the peer review process? And, who would decide what method to use? For example, would a group of "experts" get together and decide the best step-by-step process to use for peer review? I am assuming that this may be part of what is to be discussed at the symposium, but I hope that those who are holding the symposium do not think that it will be an easy process to determine what methods (if any) to apply.


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