Here’s the thing. Peer review is not perfect. It’s not a panacea. It’s simply the basic level of due diligence. By submitting work for peer review, a scientist has allowed people outside her own team to critique her work. And the journal might require some changes to the paper based on the critique — anything from edits for clarity to requesting that the scientist perform another experiment in a different way. If a paper hasn’t gone through peer review, you should be more skeptical of it. Avoiding peer review means that the researcher decided to show the public her results before allowing those results to be critiqued by independent experts.
But, at the same time, just because something has gone through peer review doesn’t mean it’s been certified to be accurate. It just means that roughly three other experts have looked at the paper before publication. There’s still a lot of room for things to go wrong. Peer review is like the bouncer at the door. The bouncer doesn’t guarantee that every person in the bar would be a good person for you to date. Even if a paper gets through, you still have to think about it critically and evaluate it on its own merits.
Agree or disagree?
In the Observer, John Naughton unloads both barrels on the “academic publishing racket” in which giant multinational publishers get free, state-subsidized research to publish, use free, state-subsidized labor for peer-review, require assignments of the scholars’ copyrights as a condition of publication, then charge astounding sums to the scientists and academics they are “serving” for the right to read the work they’re all engaged in producing.
2011 Hugo Awards to be presented at this year’s World Science Fiction Convention in Reno, NV.
Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis (Ballantine Spectra)
Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)
The Dervish House by Ian McDonald (Gollancz; Pyr)
Feed by Mira Grant (Orbit)
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
“The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window” by Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Magazine, Summer 2010)
The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang (Subterranean)
“The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon” by Elizabeth Hand (Stories: All New Tales, William Morrow)
“The Sultan of the Clouds” by Geoffrey A. Landis (Asimov’s, September 2010)
“Troika” by Alastair Reynolds (Godlike Machines, Science Fiction Book Club)
“Eight Miles” by Sean McMullen (Analog, September 2010)
“The Emperor of Mars” by Allen M. Steele (Asimov’s, June 2010)
“The Jaguar House, in Shadow” by Aliette de Bodard (Asimov’s, July 2010)
“Plus or Minus” by James Patrick Kelly (Asimov’s, December 2010)
“That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” by Eric James Stone (Analog, September 2010)
Best Short Story
“Amaryllis” by Carrie Vaughn (Lightspeed, June 2010)
“For Want of a Nail” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s, September 2010)
“Ponies” by Kij Johnson (Tor.com, November 17, 2010)
“The Things” by Peter Watts (Clarkesworld, January 2010)
“According to a peer-reviewed journal article published this week …”How often have you read that phrase? How often have I written that phrase? If we tried to count, there would probably be some powers of 10 involved. It’s clear from the context that “peer-reviewed journal articles” are the hard currency of science. But the context is less obliging on the whys and wherefores.”
A lawsuit has been filed over a 3D imaging tool called Transmagic whose demo came bundled with a DRM program called Sheriff, produced by Licensing Technologies Limited. The suit alleges after Miguel Pimentel, a Boston-area architect, installed and then deleted Transmagic, Sheriff remained on his computer, and that it scoured his computer for his personal details, then phoned home to a copyright shakedown company called ITCA (IT Compliance Association), and that subsequently, a rep from ITCA called Pimentel and accused him of pirating Transmagic. The ITCA rep demanded an immediate $10,000 license fee payment, and threatened a $150,000 copyright lawsuit if he didn’t cough up.