Peer Review Process (was Evolution Stuff (was What is Religion, exactly?))

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AuthorTopic: Peer Review Process (was Evolution Stuff (was What is Religion, exactly?))
Raven v. Writing Desk
Member # 261
Profile Homepage #176
Yeah, but we can't understand a divine plan, now can we? That's the easy answer.

From a scientific perspective, it seems awfully convenient. But from a religious perspective, it's a key fact about our lives.

If the ID people would just attach "from our religious perspective" to their views, and the evolution people would jsut attach "from a scientific perspective" to theirs, there wouldn't be any conflict. But everyone is convinced that they alone have a monopoly on the truth. Well, maybe not everyone, but some very loud militant people are (nobody on spidweb, really) and as a result everyone else becomes defensive.

To quote Einstein: "Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods."

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Slarty vs. DeskDesk vs. SlartyTimeline of ErmarianG4 Strategy Central
Posts: 3560 | Registered: Wednesday, November 7 2001 08:00
? Man, ? Amazing
Member # 5755
Profile #177
quote:
Originally paraphrased from William Dembski:
Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and my overall lack of training and comprehension, I find it in my best financial interests to believe in, and promote, Intelligent Design.
Sorry, I had to paraphrase. The website was too long, but I highly recommend the section where I can order books to learn more.

Edit - Forgot to add my reference website.

[ Friday, June 02, 2006 18:53: Message edited by: Indifferent Salmon ]

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quote:
Originally written by Kelandon:

Well, I'm at least pretty sure that Salmon is losing.


Posts: 4114 | Registered: Monday, April 25 2005 07:00
Nuke and Pave
Member # 24
Profile Homepage #178
Creator, or any other creationist, could you give a precise definition of the difference between micro-evolution and macro-evolution. That would make your position much more clear.

quote:
Originally written by Major:

I have found this argument getting quite pointless. You don’t want me (or any creationists) to give you websites quotes or anything like that. And yet, you force me to look at websites by giving information without proof and exposing me to the terrible influence of quotes. (Which are probably on the websites.)
...

Major, do you know what "scientific journals" are?

*i didn't give you links to websites. He gave you references to scientific journals you should find in the library. The difference between a website and a scientific journal is that any idiot can make a webpage, but before any article is published in a journal like "Nature", it is reviewed by best experts in the field to make sure that it's correct.

If you can find an article in a real journal that proves your position, we'll look at it. Otherwise, I can just make a page that "proves" that Earth is flat and give you a link to it.

[ Friday, June 02, 2006 19:49: Message edited by: Zeviz ]

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Be careful with a word, as you would with a sword,
For it too has the power to kill.
However well placed word, unlike a well placed sword,
Can also have the power to heal.
Posts: 2649 | Registered: Wednesday, October 3 2001 07:00
Law Bringer
Member # 335
Profile Homepage #179
He can't because no creationism or ID are published in peer-reviewed journals. ID says that they're being repressed. I think maybe they're missing the message.

—Alorael, who just renewed his subscription to The Scientist and who just recycled an enormous stack of Lancets (not originally his).
Posts: 14579 | Registered: Saturday, December 1 2001 08:00
Post Navel Trauma ^_^
Member # 67
Profile Homepage #180
quote:
Originally written by Axem Ranger Six:

If the ID people would just attach "from our religious perspective" to their views, and the evolution people would jsut attach "from a scientific perspective" to theirs, there wouldn't be any conflict.
Yes, there would. Both sides are disagreeing about what actually happened. You wouldn't say "from a scientific perspective my front door is blue, but from a religious perspective it's green".

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desperance.net - Don't follow this link
Posts: 1798 | Registered: Thursday, October 4 2001 07:00
...b10010b...
Member # 869
Profile Homepage #181
quote:
Originally written by Khoth:

You wouldn't say "from a scientific perspective my front door is blue, but from a religious perspective it's green".
Well, unless you believe in bleen and grue. To return to the original topic for a moment, would believing that your front door is actually bleen count as a religious belief? :P

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The Empire Always Loses: This Time For Sure!
Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #182
In case people wonder what "peer review" really means, here's the scoop at great length. It's an interesting institution.

Actually peer review isn't trying to prove that the submitted results are correct, only to check that they are not obviously wrong (to an expert) or too horribly presented or too uninteresting (perhaps because they are already known) to deserve journal space. Articles that get published are not thereby established as true; they are established as probably worth reading.

And "peer review" just means that the editors send the manuscripts out to between one and three busy people like me, who may or may not take time to do their reviewing job very thoroughly. Good papers sometimes get unfairly rejected, and (in my experience, much more often) bad papers do get published.

Getting good referees to send manuscripts to is not trivial for journal editors. Nobody wants to do it, though most people acknowledge it as a duty and do their best when the dreaded e-mail comes from an editor. Generally a journal finds you when you publish a paper in it yourself; or perhaps someone else says they're too busy to referee a paper and suggests you as a substitute. Authors are also often asked to suggest possible referees for their work, and the editors often take them up. Anyway, once they have nailed you as a potential donor of reviewing time, the editors ask you what topics you consider yourself qualified to review in, and start sending you papers on those topics.

Who reviews the reviewers themselves? The editors do assess their reviewers, and the leading journals cajole world-renowned researchers into serving as associate editors for particular topic areas, to act as a court of appeal. A reviewer has to send a report explaining their recommendation for acceptance (possibly after stipulated improvements) or rejection, and this report is transmitted to the paper authors for their response. The authors can then resubmit their manuscript, either by claiming to have fixed the problems identified by the referee(s), or by rebutting the referee criticisms. A reviewer who habitually sends lame reports that bring cogent rebuttals from authors will soon be dropped from the process. A reviewer who succinctly nails flaws can become a go-to person.

Usually even negative reports are polite -- the editors will delete comments such as "this paper should be killed and buried" anyway; and positive reports are rarely enthusiastic. I used to go too far in trying to let authors down lightly when I rejected them, and I found I had too many resubmittals that didn't actually address my criticisms, so I started including a final polite but firm "this means you!" paragraph, and that saves me a lot of time. But I have still been through quite a few multi-round arguments with authors over papers I thought were bad, and a couple of times a big-shot author has just gone over my head with an e-mail to the editor and gotten his lousy paper in.

The degree of anonymity of the process varies from journal to journal, or at least from field to field. In physics referees are anonymous, and most even try to purge their reports of any clues to their identity. (Once a journal inadvertently outed me to the authors of a paper I reviewed, and once I declared my identity in a report (because I was encouraging the author to emphasize how his work improved on some of mine, and I wanted to remove any fear of offending me).) But in physics the manuscript authors are generally not hidden unless they request it, which is not usual.

Getting by peer review is a relatively low bar to jump over, for professional researchers. The world's leading journals do reject most papers submitted, but mostly for being insufficiently spectacular, not for being wrong. If you don't get into Science or Nature, you sigh and resubmit at the next notch down; not all peer-reviewed journals are equal by any means, and some are basically worthless as credentials (to the point where you know that if they could only publish it there, it must be pretty bad). With solid but less high-profile peer-reviewed journals you can generally count on getting your paper published with nothing more than some hassling from a referee who will want you to re-write parts and include more references to related work.

Manuscripts from researchers without established reputations tend not to get sent to the world's top scientists for peer review. And using the approved conventions of style can make a big difference to your chances of acceptance. So it can be an uphill struggle to break into refereed journals. Lucid writing is absolutely key; if you are clear, referees are surprisingly willing to accept unconventional approaches. But picking through a confusingly-written article that makes a remarkable claim, trying to see whether it could possibly right or to identify its error, can take days of valuable time.

Most often a referee faced with such a task will seize on the first flaw they can find as an excuse for rejection, even if it isn't really important. And you know, they're probably not wrong to do that. A person who can't or won't write clearly is unlikely to have the intelligence and self-discipline to do good science.

A published article that makes a significant claim will then be checked out independently by other researchers, who will eventually submit other articles which either confirm or disagree with the original report. Scientific journals also regularly publish "comment" articles, which amount to claims that in the case of some recently published article the referees blew it because the article is crap -- or is a duplication (through ignorance, not plagiarism) of results previously published by the comment writer.

It is not clear whether the peer-reviewed scientific journal system will last forever. It didn't really get going until after WWII; it used to be more that if you were in the club of recognized researchers you could publish whatever you liked, and if it was wrong the egg was on your face. The first time Albert Einstein got a referee report, he was outraged and never published in that journal again.

And for about twenty years now in physics there has been a parallel institution to the refereed journals, the ArXiv e-print archive (originally at Los Alamos, now at Cornell with mirrors around the world). There is generally no review on ArXiv, and junk papers do get posted, though surprisingly few. In almost all cases the e-prints do get published in some traditional forum, but in fast-moving fields no-one may ever read these 'official' versions, because they have already based work of their own on the much earlier e-print versions. It's a little unclear what purpose physics journals now serve, and perhaps they may one day die out.

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We're not doing cool. We're doing pretty.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Triad Mage
Member # 7
Profile Homepage #183
I forwarded that post to my mother, who has worked as a scientific editor at Science, editor-in-chief at Nature Immunology, and now works as US Executive Editor at Nature.

She said (paraphrasing):

Editors can see the results of peer review and know that peer review results in a marked improvement in papers, and that surveys of authors show that they appreciate the peer review system. At least the first round - some get angry if they need to do a few more rounds. Also, not all papers even get to peer review - good editors are all experienced in their field and will be able to tell what papers are acceptable for peer review and publication.

As for ArXiv, it works for fields like fundamental physics and fly biology, which are relatively cheap and have large amounts of cooperation among researchers. However, biomedical papers and chemistry papers may have patents or lots of money riding behind them, and scientists are extremely competitive. An open forum in these fields would not be able to confirm or replicate or disprove the junk papers posted, and a system of peer review is needed more here.

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"At times discretion should be thrown aside, and with the foolish we should play the fool." - Menander
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Posts: 9436 | Registered: Wednesday, September 19 2001 07:00
Shock Trooper
Member # 6908
Profile #184
If I only knew how enlightened in ways different from SpiderWeb I'd become here. :)
I've read all the posts, found countless material about Creationism theory and TED (Theory of Evolution by Darvin). I even read all math calculations of Real Message in the Sky (pdf 84Kb inside). Nice, but those men just dream too much, I think.
After asking some of my good friends, who put their lives on altar of biology (I did so only for maths) about the advantages of both theories, I got the main idea. Firstly, the world of science since 1963 is struggling hard to prevent Creationism from being called a scientific theory. That is understandable, nobody wants to lose their job :) . But the main problem is that creationists from the very start just can not believe that our lives appeared by chance, when from life's point of view something "random" came out properly "ordered". And evolutionists can not explain "why not?". :)
I am not sure if I want to give my voice here to any theory. Too many facts were already discussed here and not only here. It would be interesting to make a poll with a question like "What theory do you agree with?" and answers: TED, Creationism, Other (s.a. my own), What is that?
Also may be we should discuss a possibility of evolutionist and creationist theory for Ermarian-Avernum?

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9 masks sing in a choir:
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Giant Troll Troglo
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"If the mask under mask to SE of mask to the left of mask and to the right of me is the mask below the mask to the right of mask to the right of mask below me is the same, then who am I?"

radix: +2 nicothodes: +1 salmon:+1
Posts: 203 | Registered: Tuesday, March 14 2006 08:00
Law Bringer
Member # 2984
Profile Homepage #185
We have Vahnatai Creationism.

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Posts: 8752 | Registered: Wednesday, May 14 2003 07:00
Raven v. Writing Desk
Member # 261
Profile Homepage #186
Yes, yes we do. Sigh...

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Posts: 3560 | Registered: Wednesday, November 7 2001 08:00
Shock Trooper
Member # 6908
Profile #187
quote:
Originally written by Hastur ^ 3:

We have Vahnatai Creationism.
Thanks, Aran. We also have much more of creationism of Vahnatai gods from Crystal Song, do we? ;)
Actually, I added word "creationist" at the last moment. The first variant in the post was
"Also may be we should discuss a possibility of evolutionist theory for Ermarian-Avernum?". I added "creationist" to make me clear that I'm not going to defend only the evolutionism for Ermarian.

Edit: stupid layout autoswitch

[ Saturday, June 03, 2006 10:29: Message edited by: Ford Prefect ]

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9 masks sing in a choir:
Gnome Dwarf Slith
Giant Troll Troglo
Human Nephil Vahnatai
"If the mask under mask to SE of mask to the left of mask and to the right of me is the mask below the mask to the right of mask to the right of mask below me is the same, then who am I?"

radix: +2 nicothodes: +1 salmon:+1
Posts: 203 | Registered: Tuesday, March 14 2006 08:00
Law Bringer
Member # 335
Profile Homepage #188
quote:
Originally written by Thuryl:

quote:
Originally written by Khoth:

You wouldn't say "from a scientific perspective my front door is blue, but from a religious perspective it's green".
Well, unless you believe in bleen and grue. To return to the original topic for a moment, would believing that your front door is actually bleen count as a religious belief? :P

That's one of the most common religious beliefs, really. A messianic figure is nonexistent or at least non-corporeal before time t and arrived, usually with great fanfare, after time t, where t is Armageddon or an analogous event.

—Alorael, who believes that RW will have existed after t and before t', where t is after t'.
Posts: 14579 | Registered: Saturday, December 1 2001 08:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #189
quote:
Originally written by Drakefyre's mother:

Editors can see the results of peer review and know that peer review results in a marked improvement in papers, and that surveys of authors show that they appreciate the peer review system. At least the first round - some get angry if they need to do a few more rounds. Also, not all papers even get to peer review - good editors are all experienced in their field and will be able to tell what papers are acceptable for peer review and publication.

As for ArXiv, it works for fields like fundamental physics and fly biology, which are relatively cheap and have large amounts of cooperation among researchers. However, biomedical papers and chemistry papers may have patents or lots of money riding behind them, and scientists are extremely competitive. An open forum in these fields would not be able to confirm or replicate or disprove the junk papers posted, and a system of peer review is needed more here.

That's an important point that I missed: the changes that get made to papers in the review process are often big improvements. My own papers are all exceptions to this, of course, but in a fair world I would have received some kind of credit for the miracles of transformation I have often worked as referee. And so no doubt it seems to everyone.

Probably these kinds of improvements would not get made if authors weren't forced to make them. I can send an e-mail to a colleague saying, Loved your paper but it would have been even better if you had just done thus and so; and the response will be, You're probably right but we don't have time.

It's true that there is rarely much money riding on physics e-prints these days, but I don't see why people couldn't use ArXiv for establishing priority. It certainly is publication, in the sense of distribution to the public, though one doesn't call it that. I guess that might be precisely the problem Drakefyre Senior is getting at, though. I can imagine that researchers with limited scruples might post all kinds of premature claims on an e-print server, without really having done the work needed to establish their results, and then people in the field would end up having to adjudicate in a way that amounted to peer review, but in the heated atmosphere of retrospect. So doing the peer review before publication would be better in such cases.

It's also true that most physics papers are short, rarely more than ten pages and often under 4 (or rather, exactly four to the very line, because that's the page limit for Physical Review Letters). This makes it more appealing to download an e-print and quickly get the scoop; if I were going to invest the time to pore through a 40 page treatise, I would probably wait until referees had ironed some bugs out first.

[ Saturday, June 03, 2006 11:34: Message edited by: Student of Trinity ]

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We're not doing cool. We're doing pretty.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Raven v. Writing Desk
Member # 261
Profile Homepage #190
I hereby dub Drakefyre "Junior".

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Posts: 3560 | Registered: Wednesday, November 7 2001 08:00
BoE Posse
Member # 112
Profile #191
Sorry guys, but I'm going to have to pull out. Real life has reared its ugly head. There are some good points here that deserve proper answers, but all I can do at the moment is encourage you to look for them yourselves.

Again, apologies.

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Posts: 1423 | Registered: Sunday, October 7 2001 07:00
Law Bringer
Member # 6785
Profile #192
There's an easy proof about life appearing as a random effect. In all places where life doesn't appear, there's no one around to argue about their origins. So "intelligent " life has to be generated for a debate to occur.

Peer Review:

There are two things I remember hearing back when I still had to publish through the peer review process. Reviewers will hold up publication if their relevant work isn't cited (I saw it happen). The second is rare but some people block publication in order to get priority for themselves or friends.
Posts: 4643 | Registered: Friday, February 10 2006 08:00
The Establishment
Member # 6
Profile #193
It's unfortunate the review process gets abused at times. However, by and large, it is quite effective at making sure total trash doesn't get put out.

Just because it's in a peer reviewed journal, does not make it necessarily correct, it just has a higher level of credability.

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Posts: 3726 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #194
There isn't necessarily anything wrong with holding up publication until more citations are included, because citations are important parts of a scientific paper. The reason you can say anything useful in 4 pages (or 40 for that matter) is that you cite references to all the relevant prior work. Leaving out a reference denies the reader useful relevant information; it also gives an unfair impression that your own work is more novel than it really is. And since referees are supposed to be experts on the paper's topic, you can expect that some of their own work will be stuff that ought to be cited. That having been said, some referees do seem to take a pretty broad interpretation of "relevant" when demanding that their papers get cited. Once or twice I have successfully resisted such demands.

As to delaying to establish priority, this is tricky. Journals record (and print right under the title) when the article was first submitted, as well as when it was finally published. So if a paper is eventually published, no reviewer could hide the fact that it was submitted before something else. But this leaves it open to guess, if there is a long delay between the two dates, whether the paper was crap when first submitted and took a great deal of work to render publishable, or whether it was held up unfairly by slow reviewers. (And reviewers can certainly be appallingly slow just from procrastination and overwork, without any malice. In physics, with its short papers, a reviewing time of months is typical, though it can be as short as a few days or as long as a couple of years. In linguistics, at least a year is normal.) This is where an e-print archive can be very helpful, because people can look at the full text as of the submission date, and see whether the final published version differs significantly.

[ Saturday, June 03, 2006 23:24: Message edited by: Student of Trinity ]

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Raven v. Writing Desk
Member # 261
Profile Homepage #195
Linguistics is also a relatively small discipline with an emphasis on theoretical construction (as opposed to lots of empirical studies). A lot of linguists are also rather analytically obsessive. As a result, research conclusions are often distributed unofficially, in half-baked form, by scholarly social networks.

One of the most significant developments in linguistics in recent years is Optimality Theory. The manuscript of the paper that introduced OT (by Prince and Smolensky) was widely circulated starting in 1993 and was extremely influential. It was cited in numerous other papers. But the paper itself was not actually published until 2002, because the authors wanted to wait until they were happy with their formulation of OT. Nine years!

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Posts: 3560 | Registered: Wednesday, November 7 2001 08:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #196
I don't know about OT in particular, but linguists put a lot more stock in conference presentations than physicists do, so circulation in the community for ten years before publication could well be a lot more formal than people passing notes to each other in brown paper envelopes. Typically in linguistics one has to submit abstracts and get them scored highly by peer reviewers just in order to make the conference program.

This sometimes happens in physics, but not always. Smaller meetings are often by invitation anyway, and the biggest meeting in physics has a tradition of accepting all submitted contributions. So one of the many parallel sessions always has all the crackpot talks. They pay their registration fee, they're happy to be there, they do no harm. I've never gone to this particular meeting (too huge and not quite my field), but when I do get around to it I plan to go to the crackpot session just to see what happens when a bunch of people who each think they're the new Einstein meet one another.

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We're not doing cool. We're doing pretty.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
...b10010b...
Member # 869
Profile Homepage #197
quote:
Originally written by Student of Trinity:

I've never gone to this particular meeting (too huge and not quite my field), but when I do get around to it I plan to go to the crackpot session just to see what happens when a bunch of people who each think they're the new Einstein meet one another.
Based on my observation of certain subcultures (which I shall not name for fear of offending various otherwise intelligent members of these forums), it could go either way. Most of the time such people will bend over backwards to appear as if they are having a constructive discussion without disagreeing on any salient points; every once in a while this doesn't work and the proceedings degenerate into out-and-out fisticuffs.

[ Monday, June 05, 2006 05:16: Message edited by: Thuryl ]

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Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
Law Bringer
Member # 6785
Profile #198
Some people use the conference proceedings as a way to publish without having to go through peer review. Usually if the paper is to offbeat there will eventually be criticism of it somewhere.

On a related topic, in today's Wall Street Journal, there was an article about peer reviewed journals trying to increase their ratings by getting authors to have more citations to articles that have previously appeared in that journal. They sometimes hold up publication to get an author to add them even when they aren't truly relevant. This makes the journal seem more important because it's previous articles are being cited.

At one time a university department changed its merit raise determination policy from number of publications to number of publications that were cited and the prestige of the journals that were used for publications. I thought of this since last night I googled myself and found that I was tacked on as author on a paper without my knowledge. Appearantly it was thanks for some computer programming I did for the authors. Now I have to go and find out how many more papers I was an author on that I never knew about. It would be easier if I could contact them but the paper was done in China. The result of Google getting in to China is I found out since the paper wasn't there last year.

Oh well, it inflates my publication count so it can't be bad.

[ Monday, June 05, 2006 17:50: Message edited by: Randomizer ]
Posts: 4643 | Registered: Friday, February 10 2006 08:00
La Canaliste
Member # 5563
Profile #199
Any conferences in which I have been involved, either organising or presenting, have had a peer review process for accepting papers, though less rigorous than for journals. Conference papers tend also to be shorter, and more of a signpost than an in-depth treatment of one's methods and results.
These were in the field of mathematics education, by the way.

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