CAN PEER REVIEW BE DISPENSED WITH? The Economist article cites PLoS ONE several times. This is the same PLoS ONE journal that I linked to for the article about the word “Huh”. The Economist article points out that PLoS ONE is one of the new “minimal-threshhold” journals. It has adopted a new goal of publishing as many articles as possible. The only question that peer reviewers are asked is whether a paper is methodologically sound. (Interestingly, only about half the papers submitted pass even this low threshhold.) Can PLoS ONE get along without peer review? The Economist article cites two examples of tests where deliberately flawed papers were submitted to peer-reviewed journalsand the peer reviewers did not do well. In one study in 1998, an article with eight deliberate mistakes was submitted to peer reviewers at a prestigious medical journal. On average, the reviewers found only two of the eight mistakes. In general, peer reviewers do not re-analyze data supporting an article and often the data is not made available. Perhaps peer review does not add that much. PLoS ONE is supporting a program by which scientists “can pay to have their work validated by an independent lab”.

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