Science in strange places

I love looking at my referral logs for my blogs – I enjoy seeing who has linked to our writing and I’ve made a few good friends that way. I also learn if there is news on something that interests me. For example, my Terra Sigillata blog started getting a few search hits last week directing to my post on Quintiles founder Dennis Gillings. Turns out that Dennis is in the middle of a divorce from his wife of 32 years.

But this? I don’t know what to do with this NSFW referral:

Well, it linked to my Terra Sigillata post on post-publication peer review in light of the arsenic-permissive bacteria story of the last two weeks.

But why on a BDSM site? In what context could this scholarly post possibly be discussed?

I had to look:

Yes, it turns out that the forum members were discussing their understanding of the peer-review process in the context of climate change and the discussion came to my post.

In case you don’t care to click to the forum thread, let me here give an award to forum member TrumptonMorph – a British writer, of course – until he gets to the last sentence:

[quote from another forum member who doesn’t understand peer-review] Why? This is how peer review currently operates, whether you like it or not

Trumpton Morph: This is just false. I have worked with academics who’ve had their work published. I know what happens.

In the old days reviewers were chosen by the Journal editorial staff who then scrutanised the manuscripts.

This could be a lengthy process as the peers were not paid and had to fit in time to review the paper with their own work.

Any issues with the paper was then sent to the editors who would then contact the original authors of the paper. The authors would then iron out any problems (which may be as trivial as expanding a table or significant that the work is not original enough as other authors had written similar articles. I remember this happening to my old supervisor at University and it can be very deflating)

Once amendments have been made the manuscript is sent to the editors who then forward them to the reviewers. This can happen once or twice before it’s accepted.

This is really what’s meant by peer-review – it’s what happens inbetween sending the manuscript to a Journal and having it accepted for publication.

In more modern times the editorial staff can contact the reviewers online and the reviewers can leave comments online with feedback being much quicker than it used to be. However we are still not at the stage where “anyone with a blog” can contribute to the peer-review process. [emphasis mine as it’s the only place I disagree – DJK]

Indeed, science happens in strange places.

[Insert joke about BDSM and the embargo process]

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