Peer Review Is Not What It's Cracked Up To Be

Much is made of the peer-review of scientific papers; it is frequently held up as the gold standard that assures the quality of scientific publishing.  People often ask whether some work has undergone peer-review and are then ready to accept it -- confident this makes it kosher.  I wish this were really true.  Its proper functioning depends on the integrity of the editor, who chooses two or more anonymous reviewers, at his discretion, and supposedly bases acceptance for publication on their disinterested advice. But this ideal system is easily misused.  If the editor has a bias -- as often happens in a controversial area like climate change -- then all bets are off.  The editor simply selects the reviewers who will give him the opinions he wants.  Even if the author objects to particular points in the review, the editor always has the final word -- and the paper is rejected.  Some Examples I have had three recent experiences that have...(Read Full Article)