[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

Peering at review

In my post on the latest SVP meeting although I semi-complained about the 
number of dinosaur talks it would not be good to see them dramatically cut 
back. Nor is there a practical means to do so. Some of the less interesting 
or useful talks would have easily passed peer review, and some of the more 
intriguing ones would have had trouble. 

About PR in general, back in the 80s I came up with the wild and wacky notion 
that a number of predatory dinosaur groups were secondarily flightless. What 
was I thinking?! Fool that I was I published the idea in 84 and 88. In both 
cases in nonPR venues. I remember folk giving me heck for doing so, and for 
coming up with such a silly notion anyway. Even had to take the uncinates I 
was putting on dromaeosaur skeletons off in some cases - the ones present on 
the fighting Velociraptor in the classic quarry photo?. Mere optical 

Anyhow, it is doubtful that the secondarily flightless hypothesis would have 
gotten past PR. Which would have been bad.  PR is inherently conservative, 
too often inappropriately so because the review merely reflects the 
scientific (or personal) bias of the reviewer. PR is just a way editors vet 
papers in venues of limited space, and although sometimes necessary in that 
regard and I've reviewed papers myself, it is not really an integral part of 
the scientific process. Look what happened at Science and Nature, publishing 
a series of fraudulent papers in which the graphic results of different 
experiments by the same Bell lab researcher were identical over a period of 
years. Something is rotten in Denmark, but the scientific community will 
continue to push PR as all important. Too many are effectively more 
interested in process than in results. 

As for the 'Pauline' hypothesis, it sees secondarily flightless, 
post-Archaeopteryx dinosaurs as derived avepod dinosaurs as well as birds, 
not as part of an avian clade distinct from the Dinosauria, or at the base of 

G Paul