Peer Review: A Flawed Process at the Heart of Science and Journals

ByCrossFitFebruary 4, 2019

Richard Smith, former editor of the BMJ and chief executive of the BMJ Publishing Group, presents an insightful critique of the broken peer-review process.

For years, peer review has been held up as a measure of quality and authority in publication. Yet those most familiar with the subject—such as Smith—know peer review is a slow, ineffective, and costly process characterized by bias and abuse, and peer-reviewed articles are often no more accurate or valid than papers that have not been reviewed at all.

As Smith notes, “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.”

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