Peer review is cracking up

In a recent edition of the New Scientist (16 June 2010) the editorial discussed cracks in the peer review system. Staff at the New Scientist analysed a range of scientific journals and found a strong tendency for American researchers to be published faster and in higher profile journals than their rivals elsewhere. Th New Scientist undertook the analysis because a group of researchers had recently taken the unusual step of writing a letter to a leading journal complaining of ‘unreasonable and obstructive peer reviews’. Of course it may simply be that Americans are doing better research, but the New Scientist editorial says we will never know unless peer reviews are published. Some journals are already doing this and the New Scientist hopes this practice increases so that justice can be seen to be done. The editorial concludes by saying that ‘peer review may be flawed but it is the least-worst system we’ve got’.