[D] On Peer Review
Jacob Buckman wrote a blog post about his thoughts on peer review and how the role of modern conferences has shifted in the era of arxiv and social media.
Do We Need Peer Review?
Specifically, do we need double-blind peer review of the sort that conferences provide?
As scientists, our job is to develop and capture knowledge. Peer review ensures that the work of the least-advantaged members of our community is judged by the same standards as the most-advantaged members. By “advantage,” I mean any number of intangible qualities that might cause you to trust a researcher, including:
Being a well-known senior name in the field
Coming from a respected institution or group
Having significant funding for PR
Being a member of a privileged racial group
Peer review is an invaluable resource for disadvantaged researchers, who lack the above qualities. In reality, of course, being “advantaged” or “disadvantaged” is not a boolean, or even a scalar, but hopefully it’s a coherent enough concept to get the point across. I think it’s fair to say that in general, the more disadvantaged a researcher is, the more they are forced to rely on the peer review process to build their resume and share their work with the community.