Is peer review valuable?

Lord knows every academic has an issue with peer review, particularly the mythical ‘Reviewer #2’ who finds all kinds of reasons (many of them contradictory) for not liking your article.

This story talks about an experiment done on MTurk that looked at peer review using an art scenario. Experts and Turkers looked at works of art.

“Comparisons with the Amazon Turk reviews suggested that peer reviewers in the competitive condition were unfairly giving lower scores to their peers, presumably because this gave their own work a better shot at the exhibition and resultant payout. Competitive reviewers also saw their opinions diverge so much that agreement between them fell below the level of random chance.”

This suggests that reviewers could reject articles to allow their own articles to have a better chance of being accepted. Of course, it is looking at art and not what might be considered ‘science’ but it questions peer review all the same.

The citation for the actual article is:

Balietti, S., Goldstone, R. L., & Helbing, D. (2016). Peer review and competition in the Art Exhibition Game. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201603723 and is available here.

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