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June 08, 2006

Nature Opens Peer-Review

Peer-review is the process by which scientific papers get to be published. The papers are first reviewed by a group of "peers." There's usually three of them, and they'll be experts in the relevant field. Thus the nonsense is weeded out, and only papers deemed worthy enough will be published.

Nature, however, have got bored with this scheme.
We will also offer to post the submitted manuscript onto an open website. Anyone can then respond to it by posting online comments, provided they are willing to sign them. Once Nature's editors have received all the comments from their solicited confidential reviewers, the open website will cease to take comments, and all the opinions will be considered by the editors as well as the authors.

This is, quite probably, a good idea, opening the scientific process slightly and allowing more democracy. But somehow, I just can't stop worrying.

Just how many Daily Mail journalists are going to sign up to this scheme so they can view the latest health scare-stories before anyone else? Even if those scare-stories cannot be verified by anyone else, and don't even get published in the journal.

(With thanks to The Scientific Activist)

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