Am I a hypocrite about peer review?
I was thinking about this today. Here’s why I might be one.
On the one hand, I regularly criticize peer-reviewed research papers for being unsound. I’ve also expressed doubts about the reliability of the peer review process itself. And I do all this on my blog, which is not peer reviewed. So it seems that I don’t respect peer review as a guarantee of scientific truth.
However, I also criticize things for not being peer reviewed. For instance, I roll my eyes at journalists who dare to write about research before it’s been published in a peer reviewed journal.
So what’s going on? Do I believe in peer review or not? Am I being inconsistent? Or, worse, am I a hypocrite, who thinks that other people should respect peer review, but who doesn’t feel bound to respect it himself?
Well. In my defence, I’m not alone in having a seemingly ambivalent attitude on this topic. A great many science bloggers are open to the same charge. We say that only peer reviewed research deserves to be called science, but we also write non-peer-reviewed criticisms of peer reviewed papers.
So are we all being inconsistent? In a follow-up post, I will try to answer this question, but for now I’m just going to pose it.