I just read this astonishing paper. It’s an oldie but a goodie. I should not really say it’s astonishing… rather, it is amazing to me that someone is saying it all out loud. Richard Smith, long-time editor of the BMJ, has been saying it for years. Some things, like Australia’s education system, can be described as the “least worst” way to do something. Perhaps peer review is like that.
Best quote: “That is why Robbie Fox, the great 20th century editor of the Lancet, who was no admirer of peer review, wondered whether anybody would notice if he were to swap the piles marked ‘publish’ and ‘reject’.”
And the concluding remark is gold. “So peer review is a flawed process, full of easily identified defects with little evidence that it works. Nevertheless, it is likely to remain central to science and journals because there is no obvious alternative, and scientists and editors have a continuing belief in peer review. How odd that science should be rooted in belief.”