View Full Version : THE PEER REVIEW

Mel Siff
07-18-1998, 07:56 AM
Recently I encountered an interesting article questioning the value of the
peer review in establishing scientific validity of research, written by a
colleague of mine, Professor Henneberg, who also used to lecture at the
University of the Witwatersrand in S Africa. The abstract of this article
appears below, as well as the website which provides the entire article.

Since then, I have come across several other articles on what we might term
The Peer Review Reformation, which is now even suggesting that the Internet
play a central role in the evaluation of the review process. This would then
open up critical analysis to many readers and not simply a small inner circle
of internally appointed journal reviewers who might have hidden agenda.

Some scientists have openly welcomed this process because a few of them have
added that, not only hidden agendas, but the subtle borrowing of original
ideas by reviewers (who have the power to reject any given paper) is another
negative aspect of the peer review.

Thus, the review process can give the unscrupulous reviewer an unfair access
to privileged information, a situation which never happens in the business
world. Therefore, it would seem that 'industrial espionage' often is
unnecessary in the world of science, simply because firsthand knowledge of
anything novel reaches reviewers before it reaches the world at large.

Read the additional websites and judge for yourselves the necessity for a Peer
Review Reformation.

Dr Mel C Siff
Littleton, Colorado, USA
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A brief historical overview of the origins of peer review reveals that it is
neither the best means of evaluating contributions to science nor the one most
commonly used during the period in which the modern scientific method
developed. Throughout history, most scientists published their views without
formal review and peers published their criticisms openly. It is argued here
that peer review as now undertaken by most scientific journals stifles
scientific communication, slows the advancement of knowledge and encourages
behavior among referees. Alternatives to peer review that have already been
used by some journals and funding bodies are described. Since these
alternatives have proved themselves in practice, the now commonly practised
form of peer review can be abandoned or modified. Electronic communication
can facilitate this process.

For full article, go to:

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British Medical Journal articles on the Peer Review Reformation.



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