Peer-review: end it, don’t mend it

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At Genomes Unzipped, Joe Pickrell has an important post up, Why publish science in peer-reviewed journals?:

The recent announcement of a new journal sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Max Planck Society, and the Wellcome Trust generated a bit of discussion about the issues in the scientific publishing process it is designed to address—arbitrary editorial decisions, slow and unhelpful peer review, and so on. Left unanswered, however, is a more fundamental question: why do we publish scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals to begin with? What value does the existence of these journals add? In this post, I will argue that cutting journals out of scientific publishing to a large extent would be unconditionally a good thing, and that the only thing keeping this from happening is the absence of a “killer app”.

It works for physics, computer science, and to a great extent the social sciences. Why not the biosciences?

One Comments

  1. It’s been I think an unmitigated success in physics. Yeah you get the occasional ridiculous paper. But since you are writing to people in the field usually people figure that out pretty quickly.

    What’s really nice is that you get a range of papers that I don’t think normally would get published in journals. I’m here thinking of some of Lee Smolin’s papers that go well beyond the typical science paper. I think it also aids in both promoting mathematical “trials” of ideas that may go no where but are helpful as well as more negative results. (The latter being quite important in my mind)

    It’s kind of surprising that after 15 years since LANL started doing the physics repository (now arXiv.org) that some disciplines are still wondering about following suite. I think this has more to do with ingrained power brokers than science.

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