Scientists letter: Peer review stifles ‘unfashionable’ research

Posted: June 3, 2014 by tallbloke in Accountability, Big Brother, innovation, Politics, propaganda

An article in today’s Telegraph links to a letter from over 30 scientists deploring the way peer review stifles ‘unfashionable’ innovative research. Small wonder we cannot get any funding to develop our planetary theory. It would need a tiny fraction of the kind of money poured into carbono-centric studies, but since UN-IPCC authors find it UN-PC, it is off limits.  I notice only a couple of the signatories are from leading ‘climate change’ pushing univerities. Beatrice Pelloni; University of Reading, and James Ladyman from Bristol university, who has this to say on another matter:

More than 30 leading scientists including four Nobel Laureates have written to The Telegraph deploring the current system of granting funding for scientific research.


SIR – Under current policies, academic researchers must submit their proposals to a small group of their closest competitors – their peers – for consideration before they might be funded. Peers selected by funding agencies are usually allowed to deliver their verdicts anonymously. They assess the proposal’s suitability for funding, whether it would be the best possible use of the resources requested, and determine, if it were successful, the probability that it might contribute to the national economy in some way. If the answers are satisfactory the proposal has roughly a 25 per cent chance of being funded.

Peer preview is now virtually unavoidable and its bureaucratic, protracted procedures are repeated for every change in direction or new phase of experimentation or for whatever an applicant might subsequently propose. Consequently, support for research that might lead to major new scientific discoveries is virtually forbidden nowadays, and science is in serious danger of stagnating. Many scientists privately deplore these policies but their professional standing often depends on their acquiescence – a catch-22 that effectively diminishes public opposition to the policies. We call upon funding agencies to support sustained, open-ended research in unfashionable fields.

Donald W Braben
University College London

John F Allen
Queen Mary, University of London

William Amos
University of Cambridge

Richard Ball
University of Edinburgh

Tim Birkhead
FRS, University of Sheffield

Peter Cameron
Queen Mary, University of London

Richard Cogdell FRS
University of Glasgow;

David Colquhoun FRS
University College London;

Rod Dowler
Industry Forum, London

Irene Engle
United States Naval Academy, Annapolis;

Felipe Fernández-Armesto
University of Notre Dame

Desmond Fitzgerald
Materia Medica

John Hall
University of Colorado, Nobel Laureate

Pat Heslop-Harrison
University of Leicester

Dudley Herschbach
Harvard University, Nobel Laureate

H Jeff Kimble
Caltech, US National Academy of Sciences

Sir Harry Kroto FRS
Florida State University, Nobel Laureate

James Ladyman
University of Bristol

Peter Lawrence FRS
University of Cambridge

Angus MacIntyre FRS
Queen Mary, University of London

John Mattick FAA
Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Sydney

Beatrice Pelloni
University of Reading

Douglas Randall
University of Missouri

David Ray
Bio Astral Limited

Sir Richard J Roberts FRS
New England Biolabs, Nobel Laureate

Ken Seddon
Queen’s University of Belfast

Colin Self
University of Newcastle

Harry Swinney
University of Texas, US National Academy of Sciences;

Claudio Vita-Finzi FBA
Natural History Museum

  1. AlecM says:

    Real scientists, like me perhaps, work in garrets, a bit like Georgian-era poets.

    You can do it with the internet, but it restricts your access to papers in the expensive journals, another con.

  2. colliemum says:

    There’s one more twist to be added: academics have to undergo assessments (can’t remember if it’s every three or two years) to evaluate their research performance, which is very important to their college/university because it determines their standing in the government league tables, and thus their funding.
    Academics who, thanks to that ‘peer’ review process, cannot get funding and thus cannot do research, are f*cked because their college will try to shed them as ‘dead wood’.
    It’s sickening.

  3. quote
    “Consequently, support for research that might lead to major new scientific discoveries is virtually forbidden nowadays, and science is in serious danger of stagnating”

    Survival of the fittest. Control, control,control..
    “I am paid and will defend my job at all costs!”
    Your either on the gravy train or your off it.

    Its nothing to do with science .Its about control of the masses and power play

    Religious power. peer review. We have the truth and so to protect the truth destroy any adversaries.

    How did it all get to this.. ? People in power replace themselves and recommend people with similar ideologies. ..Cloning

    Chaos vs order
    AGW climate models vs cycles

    Pentecostals call this spiritual warfare.

  4. ren says:

    Tallbloke recall, it seems to me an interesting article, if you look at the sharp growth of ice around Antarctica in 2008 (extremely low solar minimum).

  5. I have been saying this for some years about research in Humanities, which, admittedly, does not have the same urgency as scientific research. Internal peer review in preparation for REF, for example, by colleagues in the same department or school is particularly invidious since it can involve personal rivalries, subjectivities and petty scores to settle. Often, the colleagues who are part of the closed, ‘magic circle’ that has the approval of university administration (for this, read ‘research-conformists’), are non-specialists who are required to evaluate research on subjects about which they know virtually nothing. This too tends to stifle genuinely original research, research that could be considered as ‘marginal’/’unfashionable’, or research that is likely to take a number of years to see fruition, a point made in the letter above.

  6. Ned Nikolov says:

    Over the past few years, we have accumulated lots of first-hand evidence for the existence of a deliberate censorship of unfashionable research in climate- and planetary science. Journal editors are practically on the active lookout for preventing manuscripts not conforming to the stablished view from being published. Reviewers do not discuss physical or logical arguments when analyzing a submitted novel study, but mostly use their ‘belief system’ and gut ‘feelings’ to justify a rejection of such manuscripts. There is no intelligent debate anymore in the peer-review process. Journal editors tend to side up with negative reviews without making an effort to look deeper into the actual arguments and counterarguments presented by the authors … Sometimes, journal editors do not even allow a manuscript to go out for review simple because they perceive the discussed topic as being ‘contentious’ … The situation is pretty bad indeed!