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Re: Martin 2004 critique

I'd say that the error-publishing problem is indeed systemic  We are
probably seeing only the tip of the iceberg, involving many other science
journals that deal with a wide diversity of science disciplines.
The same criticisms of Martin's "facts" have been aired before (often on
the DML), going back a decade.  _AZS_ is only the latest journal where he
has been given a free ride, either by being subjected to an easy review
or to no review at all.  I can remember DML posts from 1995 that
discussed error-filled papers that Martin had authored (character trait
analysis seemed to be a particularly weak point for him in 1995 as it
remains today).

There is no obvious solution.  It is an editor problem, not an author
problem.  In my ideal world, a science journal editor would consider it
their *highest* professional responsibility not to allow any *clearly*
erroneous information to make it into print (obviously, there are many
gray areas where a fact is in dispute, and those should be allowed). 
Unfortunately, we don't live in an ideal world.  Most journal editors
only hold their jobs for a short time, and then the former editor goes
back into the "author pool" along with the rest of his colleagues. 
Perhaps editors are loath to dish out the "tough love" because they fear
alienating their peers with whom they will still be dealing long after
their editor job has ended.

Knowingly allowing error-ridden papers to be published wastes paper, it
does not further science, it does not further the dialog, and it wastes
the time of other researchers who feel inclined to publish a paper in
order to expose the errors.  It is stasis at its worst.


On Mon, 16 May 2005 11:52:16 -0500 Tim Williams
<twilliams_alpha@hotmail.com> writes:
> Scott Hartman wrote:
> >See, I think this IS a failure.  Science is not about being 
> "even-handed".  
> >It's not like all "political viewpoints" need to be heard in the 
> interst of 
> >"fairness".  That's the domain of Newsweek and Time, not Nature or 
> AZS.  
> >Peer review should weed out papers that contain obvious factual 
> errors, and 
> >the Martin paper does.  It should never have seen the light of 
> print, and 
> >the fact that another paper with an opposing viewpoint was in the 
> same 
> >issue in no way excuses this oversight.
> I agree.  But I do not believe the "system" failed, because in this 
> instance 
> I think there was NO system in place.  I suspect (but I don't 
> actually 
> *know*) that Martin was invited to write a piece for AZS, and so the 
> normal 
> rules of engagement were suspended.  In other words: no peer review. 
>  This 
> same problem also occurred with the Czerkas's "Dinosaur Museum 
> Journal", for 
> different reasons (= self-publication).  This emphasizes the 
> importance of 
> peer review, which is an integral component of scientific 
> publication.  Peer 
> review isn't perfect: reviewers can get it wong, and mistakes do get 
> through 
> to the final version.  But peer review is the first line of defense 
> against 
> the publication of "tripe" (to borrow Scott's term).
> BTW, _Nature_ does require that even authors who are invited to 
> write a 
> paper for the journal will have their paper exposed to peer review.
> Cheers
> Tim