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Wednesday, 23 August 2006

Peer Review gets the Axe

Counter"Grigori 'Grisha' Yakovlevich Perelman (born 13 June 1966) is a Russian Jewish mathematician who is an expert on Ricci flow. It is thought that he has proven the Poincaré conjecture, a major open problem in mathematics.

"There is speculation whether he will receive the $1 million prize if the proof continues unchallenged. He turned down a prize from the European Mathematical Society in the early 1990s, is said to be "very unmaterialistic", and has not shown interest in publication of the proof in a peer-reviewed mathematics journal, as the current rules for the prize require. On the other hand, the scrutiny the on-line publication has already elicited is said to be well beyond that of pre-publication peer review, and the grantor has explicitly stated that its board may change the requirements. "

So, peer review is found wanting in today's electronic age, in comparison to the scrutiny of on-line publication. Already (editing this post on the eve of Rosh Hashannah), more people have examined this blog entry--several of them, no doubt, credentialed scholars--than would have had it been submitted to a journal for peer review.

Peer review is a good thing--but it's time to bring it out of acedemia and onto the World Wide Web. The Blogosphere has already proved itself capable of exposing error and broadcasting the truth, better than any academic institution known to mankind.

I love this quote, facecious as it is:

"I'll never forget the time I submitted a paper to the Physics (A) Journal, which synthesized Mead's work on Collective QED with the latest results on the Schwartzchild solution for rotating black holes, using a clever application of Lebesque Integration theory. I unfortunately titled the paper, "Evolution of Quantum Emissions in Black Holes", and the review committee mistakenly sent it to a group of evolutionary microbiologists for peer review. Naturally, the biologists found my thesis completely incomprehensible and rejected the paper."

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