Gaming the peer review system

1 Dec

This post raises the question: “How corrupt is peer review in science?”

prior probability

Check out this exposé of peer review scams. Among other things, Cat FergusonAdam Marcus, and Ivan Oransky write:

In the past 2 years, journals have been forced to retract more than 110 papers in at least 6 instances of peer-review rigging. What all these cases had in common was that researchers exploited vulnerabilities in the publishers’ computerized systems to dupe editors into accepting manuscripts, often by doing their own reviews.  * * * “As you make the system more technical and more automated, there are more ways to game it,” says Bruce Schneier, a computer-security expert at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “There are almost never technical solutions to social problems.”

How corrupt is peer review in science? Even if the overall level of corruption is low, is the current cumbersome system of peer review worth its costs? Why…

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