Nathan Harden on the Peer-Review Process

Nathan Harden on the recent news about the gibberish-based academic articles:

[ . . . ] That’s right–peer reviewed academic journals are publishing articles that consist of total nonsense. Apparently, there is even a computer program that can generate plausibly scientific-sounding articles that are actually just random groups of sentences.

[ … ] To my mind, this is just one more piece of evidence with regard to the corruption of higher education in the U.S. Having a substantial record of published articles is necessary for almost anyone who wants to have a career as a university professor. And, furthermore, scientists are always telling us about the sanctity of the scientific method and the importance of peer reviewed research in establishing facts about the natural world.

But what confidence can we have in the whole enterprise if it is possible to publish “scientific” articles that are complete gibberish? Let’s consider all of the thousands upon thousands of scientific articles that aren’t gibberish. How well are they being peer reviewed? How thoroughly?


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