We have completed maintenance on DiscoverMagazine.com and action may be required on your account. Learn More

Blogging's First Peer Review

Neuroskeptic iconNeuroskeptic
By Neuroskeptic
Aug 5, 2013 10:20 PMNov 20, 2019 5:48 AM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Last year, I became the first person to publish in a peer-reviewed academic journal under a blogging pseudonym. Earlier this year I did it again. I can now announce that I'm also (I think) the first blogger to act as a peer reviewer under my pseudonym. The manuscript was submitted to a well-known journal and 'Neuroskeptic' was asked to evaluate it. The request came to my neuroskeptic email address, and I submitted it as "Dr N Skeptic" - my real contact details etc. never being involved. Which is... nice. But I don't want to say much more about it, because of confidentiality. So I'll take the opportunity to say that in general, peer reviewing a manuscript is not very different to writing a blogpost about a paper. There's a lot of overlap in the thought-processes involved, and the skills required. However, while I love blogging, I've never enjoyed being a peer reviewer. As a reviewer, you're not just commenting on a manuscript, but also sitting in judgement on it (the final decision is the editor's, but they mostly go along with the reviewers.)

I don't like wielding the power of being a reviewer. I worry that having said power makes me responsible for any flaws in the paper if it does get published, or alternatively, that I'll be responsible for hurting the authors' feelings (and careers) if it doesn't. But the worst part is that I will never really know what part my review played in the story of the manuscript. You never know whether you were right or wrong. What I like about blogging is that it's all above board. If I make a mistake then readers can correct me. If I write something profound then people can let me know. Eventually, in the process of open dialogue, the truth will out. It'll all come out in the wash. As a peer reviewer, you rarely get that sense of closure. It's an important role to play, and all scientists have a duty to take part in it. But that doesn't mean we have to enjoy it.

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!


Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 40% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2024 Kalmbach Media Co.