By David Caplan, PhD
Despite its importance as the ultimate gatekeeper of scientific publication and funding, peer review is known to engender bias, incompetence, excessive expense, ineffectiveness, and corruption. A surfeit of publications has documented the deficiencies of this system.[1-4] In September, the fifth in a series of international congresses concerned with how peer review can be improved will convene in Chicago. Yet so far, in spite of the teeth gnashing, nothing is being chewed.
Investigation of the peer-review system has failed to provide validation for its use. In one study, previously published articles were altered to disguise their origin and resubmitted to the journals that had originally published the manuscripts. Most of these altered papers were not recognized and were rejected on supposed “scientific grounds.” Other investigators found that agreement among reviewers about whether specific manuscripts should be published was no greater than would be expected by chance alone.