In science we trust… up to a point

Adam Rutherford, a former geneticist and now science writer and broadcaster, asks if we can continue to trust the science in peer-reviewed journal articles given that this approach has some serious shortcomings.

He discusses how the high profile “glamour” journals don’t necessarily publish better science, but that at the other end of the spectrum there are some very pedestrian publications, with a rise in retractions of poor or fraudulent research and the emergence of peer-reviewed journals that have the purpose of promoting fringe ideas.

Rutherford questions why traditional journals continue when the internet has made the concept of the published academic paper obsolete, with wide peer-analysis now able to replace narrow peer-review. Then there are books, another traditional way in which science has been communicated, which he says can be opinion presented as fact.

In conclusion, Rutherford says that we can trust the science for now, but that there is an urgent need for reform.

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