Peer review

evaluation of work by one or more people of similar competence to the producers of the work

Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people of similar competence to the producers of the work (peers).


  • Have you ever read a Michael Crichton novel, or seen one of his movies, in which the hubristic scientist actually paused and declared: "Hey, science shouldn't be done in shadows. If I keep this new thing secret I'll probably do something gruesomely stupid. But if I discuss this innovation with hundreds of peers, some of them will catch my mistakes and things won't get out of hand. Nobody will die.
  • Dear Sir,
    We (Mr. Rosen and I) had sent you our manuscript for publication and had not authorized you to show it to specialists before it is printed. I see no reason to address the in any case erroneous comments of your anonymous expert. On the basis of this incident I prefer to publish the paper elsewhere.
  • The nature of the peer-review process is creating a knowledge production cartel that gives the Western academy neocolonialist control over the means of production of knowledge. Any critique from outside the elite cartel is sidelined (especially if it is seen as a serious enough threat) by invoking the ‘peer-review’ as a silver bullet. One of the most cherished myths of the Western-controlled liberal arts intellectual apparatus is that its peer-review is a fair system. The criticisms we make of their scholarship are considered illegitimate because their writings have been peer-reviewed. … all our rejoinders get classified as ‘attacks’ on them, and not as fair criticism, because these do not emanate from within the peer- review cabal. … those who are not licensed by their academic union should not be allowed to argue against their positions, and certainly not as equal partners. This attitude is, … part of a larger problem in academic discourse, especially in anthropology, sociology and the study of religion, where it is assumed that (i) the non-academician can only be positioned as a native informant, and (ii) the native informant should not talk back. This allows mediocre scholars to close ranks and emphasize the schism between ‘we the scholars’ and ‘you the ignorant consumers’.Clearly, the peer-review process has acquired tremendous symbolic value. This blind spot in the academy prevents it from much-needed self-reflection.
  • An authority isn't a person or institution who is always right – ain't no such animal. An authority is a person or institution who has a process for lowering the likelihood that they are wrong to acceptably low levels. [...] And this is what I think is really worth celebrating as Wikipedia begins its second decade. It took one of the best ideas of the last 500 years – peer review – and expanded its field of operation so dramatically that it changed the way authority is configured.
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