Fluffy Friday – Peer Review Rings and MOOCs

You’ll have to forgive the lack of original content in this week’s Fluffy Friday (and lack of content entirely in last week’s). The MOOC launches on Monday at 11 AM and this week has been spent polishing the course and obsessing over comma placements and going a little bit hysterical after watching ourselves present over and over. One of our hysterical moments was remembering filming this introductory video – you’re never more aware of your face than when you’re being filmed in the background!

 

But in other science news there has been yet another peer review scandal, this one reported by the Washington Post. The Journal of Vibration and Control (I will not make a joke, I will not make a joke) was apparently victim to a peer review ring, where a scientist made up false aliases to give himself and colleagues favourable reviews. Publishers SAGE have released a statement where they say:

While investigating the JVC papers submitted and reviewed by Peter Chen, it was discovered that the author had created various aliases on SAGE Track, providing different email addresses to set up more than one account. Consequently, SAGE scrutinised further the co-authors of and reviewers selected for Peter Chen’s papers, these names appeared to form part of a peer review ring. The investigation also revealed that on at least one occasion, the author Peter Chen reviewed his own paper under one of the aliases he had created.

 

What I would give to have been a fly on the wall when they came up with that idea. I imagine it happened in the pub as it was closing, a group of scientists huddled around their pints, and as they get hustled from their barstools one of them comes up with the inevitable words “Why don’t we just review our own papers?

I think Kevin Spacey should play that scientist in the movie.

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