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Monday, April 27, 2015

Science’s Big Scandal

Even legitimate publishers are faking peer review.

By Charles Seife
Originally published April 1, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

When something at the core of scientific publishing begins to rot, the smell of corruption quickly spreads to all areas of science. This is because the act of publishing a scientific finding is an essential part of the practice of science itself. You want a job? Tenure? A promotion? A juicy grant? You need to have a list of peer-reviewed publications, for publications are the coin of the scientific realm.

This coin has worth because of a long-standing social contract between scientists and publishers. Scientists hand over their work to a publication for free, and even sometimes pay a fee of several hundred to several thousand dollars for the privilege. What’s more, scientists often feel duty-bound to vet their colleagues’ work for little or no compensation when a publication asks them to. In return, the publications promise a thorough review process that establishes that a published article has some degree of scientific merit. Just like modern coinage, most of scholarly publications’ value resides in a stamp of approval from a trustworthy body.

The entire article is here.