Re: [asa] Trees don't lie

From: Glenn Morton <>
Date: Sun Mar 22 2009 - 21:54:37 EDT

Randy, In Einstein's day, journals published almost anything sent in

----- Original Message -----
From: "Randy Isaac" <>
To: <>
Sent: Sunday, March 22, 2009 7:54 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Trees don't lie

> Well said, George. It's also useful to consider how papers were reviewed a
> century ago.At that time, as far as I can tell, the business of science
> was even more concentrated in the hands of the few elite. They controlled
> much more closely who got to publish what. As science became a much
> broader vocation with many more people entering into the field and
> contributing, peer review, rather than superior review, became a more
> efficient, effective, and practical means of screening submissions.
> In the future, it may well be that the internet will enable an even more
> efficient review process. It would not be an open free-for-all but perhaps
> one more closely modeled after the open-source software model. When Linus
> Torvalds first used the open-source approach to developing the Linux
> operating system, many of us, if not most of us, in the field were rather
> skeptical of the business model. It has turned out to be quite effective
> but it does need guidance with a small knowledgeable team of experts.
> Similarly, I expect a peer-review process opened up via the internet with
> an appropriate level of control to be used effectively in the future. Some
> models are already being tried.
> Randy
> George wrote:
>> I've been involved in peer review both as a reviewer & reviewee, & in
>> both physics & theology. You can certainly encounter reviewers who
>> either haven't read the paper carefully or, in a few cases, who aren't
>> sufficiently familiar with the area of the paper to be reviewing it in
>> the 1st place. (The latter situation may arise when someone agrees to be
>> a ref without fully understanding what the topic is going to be & should,
>> when he/she finds out, return the paper to the editor apologetically.)
>> Unfortunately refs who are really experts are likely to be very busy
>> people who will give the paper only a quick read & perhaps miss
>> subtleties. That can work both ways - either for rejection or for
>> approval of something that looks superficially OK but isn't.
>> That much for the negatives. I would have to say from my experience
>> though that on balance the review process is beneficial for authors. It
>> forces them to clarify arguments and correct errors that are not fatal to
>> their argument but that would weaken the overall thrust of the paper. &
>> in some cases refs can call the authors attention to other papers that
>> they weren't aware of that are relevant to the topic in question.
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Received on Sun Mar 22 21:54:33 2009

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