26.5.17

REFEREEING IS A CRAPSHOOT.

Retraction Watch notes that Cogent Social Sciences have withdrawn a paper submitted as a way of exposing the rot in gender studies. Publisher blames bad choice of reviewer for publication of hoax paper on penis as “social construct.” The retraction doesn't restore much confidence in the enterprise.
The article was received by a Senior Editor and sent out for peer review as is standard. Two reviewers agreed to review the paper and it was accepted with no changes by one reviewer, and with minor amends by the other. On investigation, although the two reviewers had relevant research interests, their expertise did not fully align with this subject matter and we do not believe that they were the right choice to review this paper.
And yet the editor relied on the algorithm that picked the reviewers, or something, rather than doing a proper vetting. One reason I let my academic electronic mail go away was to shut down the spammy referee requests from the new journals I never heard of. (If an editor really wants my advice on a paper dealing with, for instance, heavy industry, and he's resourceful enough to find me, perhaps I'll have a look.)

And retractions of papers submitted to expose weaknesses in peer review are not as rare as you might think, dear reader.

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