The Gatekeepers of Psychology: Evaluation of Peer Review by Case History

The Gatekeepers of Psychology: Evaluation of Peer Review by Case History

The Gatekeepers of Psychology: Evaluation of Peer Review by Case History

The Gatekeepers of Psychology: Evaluation of Peer Review by Case History

Synopsis

This book is a wake-up call for those who contend that the peer review system for journal publications works. It supports the current groundswell of dissatisfaction with peer review. Harcum and Rosen challenge the notion of simple biases of researchers and argue that many reviews are simply incompetent. The biases against new scientific approaches and philosophies are exacerbated if proposed by unknown researchers or if contrary to the established research stars. The authors also destroy the myth of the appeal system as a forum whereby peers can debate scientific issues.

Excerpt

This book documents in an unusual way several weaknesses in peer evaluations of research that has been submitted to psychological journals for publication. Complaints about the validity of the peer-review process are not unusual. the unique aspect of this book is its method of documenting multiple deficiencies in the evaluations. It presents actual copies of the original submissions to different journals of several manuscripts on a similar topic. Quoting the specific comments of the evaluators on each submission, it permits direct comparisons of the comments with the actual manuscripts. Readers of this book will thus be able to make their own judgments about the appropriateness and propriety of the editors' and evaluators' comments.

This particular evaluation procedure has not been used previously. Although Cummings andFrost (1985b) did describe two specific cases of evaluations, the papers were written by different authors for a single journal. One submission was successful and the other was unsuccessful. the small size of the samples of both research submissions and evaluators precluded any conclusions about possible biases with respect to specific subject matter. Moreover, the generality of the particularistic view of the process in these two articles was limited by the apparent personal acquaintance of the chief editor with both authors.

The present direct method is the only way to answer definitively the ubiquitous charge that the complaints of rejected authors reflect nothing more than personal psychodynamic mechanisms, such as denial and frustration-aggression (Roediger, 1987). the overall result of the present documentation and discussion is a clear indictment of certain aspects of the journal . . .

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