Monday, August 28, 2006

Peer review

As i was mentioning in the previous post , the actual academic system is flawed. Peer review system in conference or journal is often tedious, long and time wasting. On top of the it often happen that paper get accepted because people from the committee know the submitter and "discretely" push it into the conference . Also sometimes the opposite happens , science is like war and if somebody doesn't like you , no matter how innovative or interesting is your paper it will be rejected by that person.
On top of the the actual reviewer rarely do the review by himself. Its most of the time delegated to a postgraduate that doesn't really care and do a quick read and drop of few line of comment. OK , not all the time , but its fairly common.
So we end up having a explosive mix:
  • People with uber ego and the turf war that comes with it.
  • The necessity to publish no matter what so you can be recognised and be promoted.
  • The quality of the review is limited because such task is often tedious , time consuming and not really rewarding ( unless its for a prestigious journal). And its also due to the amount of paper that want to be published
So, Apparently the journal Nature started to see that there is some problem in the current way of handling review of paper and proposed a new form of peer reviewing (Wired article ). The review process use a wiki like system that anybody can contribute to. Yes anybody can review an article add comment etc ... which is great and also fast track the review system ( that is awfully slow ).

But there is still one thing that i don't get , why should scientific need to have they work published in journals/conference to be recognized? Look at what happens with the Poincaré story, the mathematician published its discovery on the net , no journal , conference or other crap. People review it , study it ( and even publish tons of paper based on it argg...) . I think that conferences and journals , rather than being a medium for the dispersion of scientific knowledge , have become a business ( the average registration cost is around 500 euro ) . So when does this nonsense will stop and people will just publish on the net and let people review decide by themselves if its good or not.