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Article: Nature, "Peer reviewers need more nurturing"

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS news' started by Andy, Dec 21, 2017.

  1. Andy

    Andy Committee Member

    Hampshire, UK
    TiredSam, Inara, Valentijn and 14 others like this.
  2. Barry

    Barry Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Excellent. A few gems:
    Inara, Mij, TiredSam and 13 others like this.
  3. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    "We need to have more confidence in the people chosen to lead big projects. "

    Hmm... then you need to do more to hold to account those who place people like White in charge of major projects!

    "Excellence is the primary qualification so gender, race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, age and so on must be no barrier to inclusion on a panel of assessors."

    Excellence is the primary qualification? Identified how? If we could reliably identify excellence everything would be a lot easier.

    I think that a big problem is that many people have too much respect for the peer-review process. There are things that can be done to improve it, but it's always going to be pretty shit, and it's important that people not assume they can trust claims made in the peer-reviewed literature.

    Another thing that is really worrying to me is that some researchers seem to think that having their papers pass peer-review somehow absolves them of responsibility to defend the unreasonable claims and inaccuracies in their papers, as if peer-review has somehow shown that their work is of an acceptable standard, regardless of the problems others may later identify.
    Inara, Barry, Solstice and 11 others like this.
  4. Subtropical Island

    Subtropical Island Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Peer review is like the quote from Churchill on democracy: It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.
    Peer review is a check and balance, one of many, not a panacea.

    I agree, we need to value peer reviewers, we need to find ways to make it worth while to do them, to be what we would like a peer reviewer to be. But we also need to know that peer review is only one part of a process of review and critique, like the preliminary hearing in a trial: just the bit that checks if there's anything to be read. The spam filter.
    Inara, Solstice, Barry and 7 others like this.
  5. Barry

    Barry Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    You got there before me :). Peer reviewing is not unique to science, but seems to have taken on a life of its own somehow within some areas of the science community. Peer reviewing is not a magic wand, but an important quality assurance layer; if done properly it should help filter out poor science and motivate scientists to do better science. Unfortunately within some scientific circles their pet peer reviewers seem to be part of the poor science club.
    EzzieD, Esther12, Andy and 2 others like this.
  6. Samuel

    Samuel Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    i think partly what is being fought over is credibility, authority, and status.

    there is an attitude out there that peer review confers truth. as a performative act, much like "i pronounce you man and wife" means you are married, peer-reviewed means it's true. this is magical thinking. as long as it exists, this audience will be fought over.

    but even if this audience goes away, there is rational ignorance. nobody can read every paper. attention will be fought over.

    at the same time there is palpable insecurity that science is losing its authority -- reinforced by anti-science attitudes out there. mankind needs science. there is also a closing of ranks. and a desire to keep its 1950s style "we know best" authority. and some people just plain adore authority.

    it should be obvious that a basic point of science-as-it-should-be is that it is inductive, transparent, and humble. it is indifferent to what authority wants. it does not reject perceived outsiders. science is meant to be science. not a white coat or a degree. it is not served by closing ranks. it is not served by fallacies. science and all of academia are frequently puppets of authority, even if only because what you do and do not fund can make the difference. but this can be mitigated if anybody cares.

    i think we are seeing bits and pieces each time of a somewhat large, somewhat momentous clash of fear, promise, disappointment, disillusionment, opportunism, desperation, and repositioning. must be watched closely. i don't see much enlightenment thinking out there, but some quiet people probably care. there is danger, but, maybe somewhere in there, a little hope.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2017
    Inara, Allele and Wonko like this.
  7. Wonko

    Wonko Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Personally I don't, and can't see me ever, want authority, the fact that some do suggests mental illness to me.

    I also don't generally respect authority in others, I may do on a personal level, but as an abstract thing based on title, rank or professional status, nah. Familiarity in most cases breeds contempt, I've been on the wrong end of "authority" for too long, "authority" that clearly has less than a clue.

    All these people are....people....they may, in some, or even in a lot of respects, know, or think they know, more than I do, but they are still people, with all the flaws people have.

    No matter how many knighthoods, professorships and public adoration these people may have, they are still people, they are, in some respects, just little scurrying self interested rodents (ala rat race if taking it literally causes offense) that have to occasionally use a toilet - no matter how much some others think the sun shines out of their .......

    This doesn't mean I think they are bad people, in most cases, in most cases they appear to be simply following their own imperatives, as evolution and social conditioning has instructed them to do.....but suitable authority figures.....I think not.

    But I would think that.....as with hard work and dedication I might, after a lifetime's effort, barely manage to increase my official social class to...scum. ;)
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2017
    Inara, TiredSam, Yessica and 2 others like this.
  8. TiredSam

    TiredSam Moderator Staff Member

    For a moment there I believed you, until you revealed that you just want to rise to the top of the pond like everybody else:

    Inara, Valentijn, Esther12 and 5 others like this.

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