She feared that abandoning peer review would make scientific literature no more reliable than the blogosphere, consisting of an unnavigable mass of articles, most of which were “wrong or misleading”.
I am very much convinced by this, but let’s think coldly.
Pro peer review is that a majority of peer reviewed articles is formed by correct articles, while a majority of “the blogosphere [is] consisting of an unnavigable mass of articles, most of which were “wrong or misleading””.
Contrary to peer review is that, according to “Richard Smith, who edited the BMJ between 1991 and 2004” :
“peer review was too slow, expensive and burdensome on reviewers’ time. It was also biased against innovative papers and was open to abuse by the unscrupulous. He said science would be better off if it abandoned pre-publication peer review entirely and left it to online readers to determine “what matters and what doesn’t”.”
Which I interpret as confidence in the blogosphere-like medium.
Where is the truth? In the middle, as usual.
Here is my opinion, please form yours.
The new medium comes with new, relatively better means to do research. An important part of the research involves communication, and it is clear that the old system is already obsolete. It is kept artificially alive by authority and business interests.
However, it is also true that a majority of productions which are accessible via the new medium are of a very bad quality and unreliable.
a majority of the work of academic painters was good but not brilliant (reliable but not innovative enough), a majority of non academic painters produce crappy cute paintings which average people LOVE to see and comment about.
You can’t accuse a non affiliated painter that he shows his work in the same venue where you find all the cats, kids, wrinkled old people and cute places.
Science side, we live in a sea of crappy content which is loved by the average people.
The so called attention economy consists mainly in shuffling this content from a place to another. This is because liking and sharing content is a different activity than creating content. Some new thinking is needed here as well, in order to pass over the old idea of scarce resources which are made available by sharing them.
It is difficult for a researcher, who is a particular species of a creator, to find other people willing to spend time not only to share original ideas (which are not liked because strange, by default), but also to invest work into understanding it, into validating it, which is akin an act of creation.
That is why I believe that:
– there have to be social incentives for these researchers (and that attention economy thinking is not helping this, being instead a vector of propagation for big budget PR and lolcats and life wisdom quotes)
– and that the creators of new scientific content have to provide as many as possible means for self-validation of their work.