Friday, July 11, 2014

One Of Those Amazing Headlines

From July 10, 2014 Washington Post:
Scholarly journal retracts 60 articles, smashes ‘peer review ring’
There has been a lot of discussion of late about how many scientific journals with their reliance on peer review are increasingly being found seriously defective, and some cases, fraudulent.  I've mentioned some examples here and here. This article mentions that the Journal of Vibration and Control (no, it's not a journal devoted to female S&M, get your mind out of the gutter) has pulled back 60 published papers because it found that there was a peer review ring that was allowing at least one author to review his own papers using an alias.

In this case, the editors figured this out themselves, instead of being embarrassed by someone else discovering it.  It makes you wonder how many of the social science journals have the same problem, and either haven't discovered it yet, or don't really want to do so.


  1. I get into arguments with people all the time on the web about sciency things like global warming. I tend to get slapped a lot with links to peer reviewed research articles. Far too many people think that peer review is like Papal infallibility. "You can't question that, man. It's peer reviewed!!!"

    And yet we have things like the Alan Sokal affair, the fellow that published 7 articles in Science Magazine that had to be withdrawn (And 15-20 more that had to be withdrawn from other journals.

    And so on. This story is nothing new except for so many being withdrawn at once.

    All peer review means is that it didn't stink so bad the journal thought readers would notice.

    Another problem is that authors have to pay publication fees of $1500 to $5000 to get their articles published. Seems like a conflict of interest for the journals, doesn't it? Are they really going to turn away a paying customer?

    Lots of good research is published but also lots of absolute BS. Peer review seems to do little to filter it.

    John Henry

  2. This is the first that I have ever heard of an author having to pay to get an article published. Which journals?

  3. Apparently it is a common practice with many (most?) scientific journals.

    Sage is the organization in question here. This is their price list:

    This is a bit about how and why they charge the authors:

    Another article about publishing fees.

    Here are some more prices

    Read this, too. How bad does a person have to be when the university that awarded a person's PhD revokes it? And yet he published a couple dozen peer reviewed articles that had to be withdrawn.

    So yeah, I don't think "Peer Review" is the holy grail that some people hold it out to be.

    I have had 3 peer reviewed articles as well as more than 50 other technical articles published since 1998 as well as several books. Mostly about packaging machinery or about manufacturing changeover.

    My son has authored or co-authored 10 peer reviewed research papers in medical journals. We have a bit of experience with publishing and peer review in this family. Neither of us had to pay to publish anything, though.

    I think it is a good idea and it probably makes for better papers. It still doesn't prevent absolute BS from getting published.

    John Henry

  4. A friend of mine has a PhD in medicinal chemistry and worked for NIH as a post doc for a few years. His group had to pay journals. The idea that peer review is anonymous is a joke at the highest levels, as there are only a couple labs in the world working on that particular problem. His boss could always tell who had reviewed their articles based on the comments.

    I've been a peer reviewer for a nursing journal (hardly science, but we pretend). As bad as the trash that gets published is, the trash that peer review keeps out is even worse.