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Tuesday, August 30, 2005
 
Peer review another look: or, on the salvific effects of peer review ::

Jim West has, in Biblical Theology, a fine polemic piece titled "Washed in the Blood of the Peer Review" taking me (and others) to task for our dependence on "peer review". He sums it up, himself, in fine style:
In sum I object to the scholarly mentality that sees itself as "washed in the blood of the peer review". Peer review does not guarantee truth. No one can believe it does. Hence, it exists simply for the preservation of power. It is nothing less than the old cliche of the smoke filled back room where the good ole' white boys gather around the card table to buttress the careers of their friends while they ignore those who are not worthy of their attention because "their ideas didn't appear in the Journal of High-Falootin' Research" published by Brill and costing 95 Dollars for each issue published on a quarterly basis.
And largely I agree with him. I have no desire to defend the "system" it is (almost) indefensible (well it's not, and probably some biblioblogger with more desire will defend it) but I certainly don't want to defend it. And I did say, as well as some incautious stuff, that I now (thanks to Jim's good sense) deeply regret, and won't repeat ;) I did say "or some process that ensures similar rigorous standards". And will note that, in the sordid world where paid academics live, "publish or perish" is the rule, and the publish part needs to be recognised by other bodies as the equivalent of peer review else it only counts for mini-brownie-points and will not save your career, job and family income!

So, in summary: I heartily withdraw the phrase "peer review" and reword the last bullet point below:




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