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Agree 100% (more)


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Posted by WW on February 27, 2002 at 04:48:29:

In Reply to: Re: Peer Review? - or censorship? posted by Scott Thomson on February 27, 2002 at 03:35:06:

There is no doubt that some editors and referees abuse the system, and abuse their positions to shaft rivals or others. Some editors or referees are arrogant and anal retentive beyond belief. I have had a paper rejected (without even being refereed!) because of the number of authors (now that really impnges on the quality of the science, right?), have had papers spiked by editors who happened to be engaged in competing research, and had colleagues engaged in such research shaft my papers when reviewing them. Moreover, the same has happened to most of my colleagues. What do you do with rejected papers? You go through the reviewers' comments, decide which are valid, implement them, and submit a revised version elsewhere. If the paper is good and valid, chances are it will be accepted elsewhere if it fails in the first journal it is submitted to. This is all part and parcel of academic life - if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen (although I will admit frustration at times...).

Nevertheless, the abuse of the system by some has not shaken my conviction that peer review is an essential part of serious scientific publication. As in Scott's case, many of my papers have benefitted considerably from peer review, both in eliminating bloopers, and in improving my analysis, my discussion and my interpretation of data and results.

*Most* editors and *most* reviewers see their most important role as helping authors improve their papers and getting the most out of their research. In a species description, this would incldue suggestions for additional characters that might be useful in a group, and pointing out errors, such as wrong specimen designations, as mentioned by Scott, or other more major omissions (e.g., holotype description, a list of material examined, comparative stats, etc.).

Regarding the accessibility of the literature, that works each and every way. Hobbyists may find some professional journals hard to get hold of, but the reverse applies as well - I have had a number of inter-library loan requests for papers in amateur journals bounce because they could not trace the journal. Posting papers as .pdf files on one's web site is a great idea, and professional scientists also do to an increasing extent, if only to avoid having to stuff envelopes in response to reprint requests (some of mine are available in this manner). Given the major scientific abstrating services such as Current Contents etc. tracing papers in scientific journals is probably easier than tracing them in Herpetoculture journals.

Just a few thoughts.

Cheers,

Wolfgang



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