Peer review and scientific fraud aren’t often connected together. There are many who believe peer review has a role to play in uncovering scientific fraud. The Scholarly Kitchen brought this interesting topic to our attention in their article, “Fraud and Peer Review: An Interview with Melinda Baldwin.”

Peer review may be appropriate as a fraud detector, but is it the right role? Even the most secure software could be compromised. That is why some observers argue for changes to the way that editors assign papers to reviewers, particularly to end the use of reviewers suggested by a manuscript’s authors.

In the academic publishing world, peer review is like the “inspected by” sticker you find in your clothes. It provides assurance that someone who knows what they’re doing has double-checked it.

However, readers know that being peer-reviewed doesn’t ensure that a scientific paper got it right. There are a lot of cases where papers do make it past peer review and are later found to be deeply flawed or found to be based on deliberately fabricated data.

Melody K. Smith

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