Infrastructure of Science Under Attack

Seems as though one of the infrastructrual foundations of science is being challenged, and the call is form some form of process reform.

As you know, only the 8% of the Scientific Research Society’s members agreed that ‘peer review works well as it is'(Chubin and Hackett, 1990; p.192). Consequently, we invite you to participate in identifying means to improve Peer Review effectiveness.
Call for Participations through any of the following three ways to contribute in the improvement of Peer Review processes:
•   Research Blogging, and/or
•   Submitting an abstract and CV to a Conference Special Track (submission deadline: May 18, 2012), and/or
•   Submitting an article to the Journal on systemic, Cybernetics and Informatics (JSCI)
Details at (Where authors and articles referenced in this are included among a larger list of references)
An exponentially increasing number of studies and experience-based editors’ opinions are clear and explicit about peer review weaknesses and failures. The following affirmations are a very small sample (Many more can be found at the references included in the above mentioned URL)
“A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision and an analysis of the peer review system substantiate complaints about this fundamental aspect of scientific research. Far from filtering out junk science, peer review may be blocking the flow of innovation and corrupting public support of science.” (Horrobin,2001) Horrobin concludes that peer review “is a non-validated charade whose processes generate results little better than does chance.”

“If peer review was a drug it would never be allowed onto the market” affirmed Drummond Rennie (Smith, 2010, p.1), deputy editor of the Journal Of the American Medical Association and who intellectually provided support for the international congresses of peer review that have been held, since 1989, every four years. If peer review was a drug, he added, it “would not get onto the market because we have no convincing evidence of its benefits but a lot of evidence of its flaws.” (Ibid)

Few days ago, Carl Zimmer (2012) reported in the New York Time that, according to a study made by PubMed data base, the number of articles retracted from scientific journals increased from 3 in 2000 to 180 in 2009. 6000% of increment in 10 years! This “Sharp Rise in Retractions Prompts Calls for Reform.” (Ibid)

But, “Peer Review is one of the sacred pillars of the scientific edifice” (Goodstein, 2000), it is completely necessary as quality assurance for Scientific/Engineering publications, and “Peer Review is central to the organization of modern science… why not apply scientific [and engineering] methods to the peer review process” (Horrobin, 2001).

This is the purpose of this call for participation via 1) blogging, 2) submitting an article to the Special Track on Peer Reviewing: PR 2012, and/or 3) submitting an article to the Journal of Systemics, Cybernetics, and Informatics. More details for each of these three ways of participating can be found at


PR 2012 Organizing Committee

This entry was posted in STS, Uncategorized by Nicholas. Bookmark the permalink.

About Nicholas

Associate Professor of Sociology, Environmental Studies, and Science and Technology Studies at Penn State, Nicholas mainly writes about understanding the scientific study of states and, thus, it is namely about state theory. Given his training in sociology and STS, he takes a decidedly STS-oriented approach to state theory and issues of governance.

One thought on “Infrastructure of Science Under Attack

  1. As someone in the final stages of the promotion and tenure process, I fully agree with your comment, lcb911. In fact, this weekend, I was discussing this matter with a colleague in chemistry, and he said: "well, you should probably get tenure around the time you no longer need the peer review process, because by then everyone should know that those are your papers about state theory and, hell, they could probably pick out your work based on the tenor of the prose.".I had to laugh, especially now when access to previously presented work or activities like those on blogs like this can easily give reviewers a "tip" as to whose work their reading/reviewing..Any ideas about P&T reform? Certainly, even a basic reading Merton suggests that the system is biased towards early success, although the Matthew Effect is commonly misunderstood.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s