Originally posted by ProfEmeritus
I recently became a member of ATS and after posting a few threads, and responding to several posts, I noticed that many posters have a medicine of
last resort, when their arguments don't convince others. Their response is something like this: "Your source hasn't been peer reviewed"
I'd like to know what others think.
For those not familiar with the jaded history of peer review, you might want to Google "Sokal affair", a famous hoax perpetrated on academia to
expose peer review and its flaws. That was a non-sense paper that passed peer review. There are many such papers. In addition, there are works/papers
that were rejected by peer review that ended up winning the Nobel Prize (Krebs Cycle-1937 for one). There were also Nobel Prize winners that did not
go through the peer review process, such as Abdus Salam, “Weak and electromagnetic interactions” (1968), and Watson and Crick, 1951, a paper on
DNA in nature. (reference-Peggy Dominy & Jay Bhatt,"eer Review in the Google Age" .
Peer review happens both before and after publication. It`s an ongoing process. Pre-publication peer review happens in some cases, but more often than
not it`s a post-publication process to verify the results/observations/etc. Sometimes the whole process takes place within a single lab - getting
another person to verify your conclusions. Sometimes papers are presented in public (thesis defense, symposium, conference) and questions are fielded
on the spot. Sometimes debates rage in the literature via letters for years.
Taking a look at a couple of your examples:
The Abdus Salam article you mention appears here:
Elementary Particle Theory. Relativistic Groups and Analyticity. Proceedings of the eighth Nobel Symposium, Aspenäsgården, Lerum, Sweden, May 1968.
Nils Svartholm, Ed. Interscience (Wiley), New York, and Almqvist and Wiksell, Stockholm, 1969.
This is an example of a symposium paper. It would have been first reviewed by the symposium organizers, at least in part, provided to attendees
beforehand, and questions taken on the spot. After publication... 39 years of peer review thusfar.
I`m not sure what you (or Dominy and Bhatt) are referring to regarding the Watson and Crick paper, because the earliest paper I can find that they
co-authored in Nature was in 1953. As their 1953 papers (quite short, the most important one is only a single page) detailed discoveries arrived at
through current research, there may have been no pre-review process beyond checking the details of the paper before opening it up to comments. As far
as it having had no peer-review though: they`ve had over 50 years of peer review of their work.
The Krebs article from 1937 was published in the journal Enzymologica, and it outlines the Krebs Cycle. Can`t comment on it being rejected without
knowing the details. Regardless, it was published, and it`s had 70 years worth of peer review at this point, and still taught in basic chem classes.
I`m not sure where you`re going with this, exactly. There have been examples of hoaxes - although you (and Dominy and Bhatt) left out my favourite -
the Flashman Papers - but for the overwhelming majority of cases, bad science, bad history, bad archaeology, everything but bad poetry tends to work
very well via peer review, providing you remember that the peer review process does not end at publication.