[WikiEN-l] Re: So much for books as reliable references!

Alphax (Wikipedia email) alphasigmax at gmail.com
Sat Feb 4 14:20:41 UTC 2006

Ray Saintonge wrote:
> Michael Snow wrote:
>> Delirium wrote:
>>> Stan Shebs wrote:
>>>> Actually, it's sort of interesting that this is news. While it's
>>>> common practice to have peer review for scholarly books, the "peer"
>>>> part of the term should be a hint that it's not the publisher doing
>>>> the checking! My guess is that our reverence for the printed page
>>>> is such that we just assume no one would dare to print without
>>>> being certain of its correctness.
>>> In many fields the peer-review of even scholarly books is not all
>>> that high.  In the sciences, journal articles hold much more weight
>>> than books, because there's a perception that anybody can get a book
>>> published.
>> I'm not so sure that the peer review of journal articles is
>> necessarily that much better. I recently dealt with a situation in
>> which the submitter of an article was able to specifically request
>> that his article not be forwarded to one of the logical candidates for
>> peer-reviewing it, because he anticipated that this person would give
>> an unfavorable review. Cherry-picking your reviews hardly counts as
>> rigorous scholarship in my book.
>> The theory of peer review is nice, but even in academia the execution
>> is often shoddy and politically skewed. Practices at different
>> journals vary, of course, so the reputation of the journal needs to be
>> considered beyond just the question of whether it qualifies as
>> peer-reviewed. 
> This past week the CBC has featured the story of Dr. Ranjit Chandra who
> faked results about multivitamin benefits for the elderly.  He has since
> left the country, but seems to be doing well running a non-existent
> university in Switzerland, and selling his multivitamins in India.
> One quotation from the third part of the programme.
>> The former editor of the British Medical Journal, Richard Smith, says
>> there's a good reason for that.
>> "Anybody who knows about peer review knows that sometimes it will pick
>> up a fraudulent study, but it's by no means guaranteed to do so,"
>> Smith says. "And that's largely because it starts from a position of
>> trust. So if somebody says there were 200 patients, then you assume
>> there were 200 patients. You don't say, 'Well show me their records
>> and show me their photographs, I need to see them.' The whole thing is
>> based on trust."
> The pharmaceutical industry in particular has a reputation for making
> its studies look good.
> It is never safe to say that a peer-reviewed article is ipso-facto valid.

I don't suppose anyone remembers the name of the guy who used the same
set of data over and over and over again to fake his results on nanotech

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