Plenary Session Presentations

Re: Human Reviewers: The Achilles Heel of Scientific Journals in a Digital Era

R. M. Chandler-Burns

Floyd Bloom has a nice sense of humor, contrasting 'human' with
'digital era.'  Peer reviewers will be glad that Dr. Bloom has a
high enough opinion of them to call them 'human reviewers.'  I believe
it is the first time I have read such a description.  On the not so
light side, the plenary writer has pointed out exactly one of the
problems academic researchers have when filling in their activity
reports for the yearly review.  At my university, the Autonomous
University of Nuevo Leon in Monterrey, Mexico, we do not have a
section for 'peer-reviewing.'  Being a peer reviewer counts only in
the Mexican national research council as prestige not a road to larger
grants and is included in one's Curriculum vitae voluntarily.  There
is no demand to tick yes/no peer-reviewing boxes.

In the full-blown digital era, if and when pre-E-Print archive services could
feed the prestigious journals, the peer reviewer will exist but will be
called 'colleague' which most scientists would like to call their peers
but don't because of the anonymous nastiness (in the name of rigor) that
most peer reviewers exhibit in their replies to the editor and author(s).

The pre-E-Print at proves that peer-reviewing can be
decent and extremely helpful to the scientist, especially non-native
English-speaking ones, that traditional journals have not exhibited.
The language used in the exchange of electronic documents is much
different than the hardcopy exchanges most of us are accustomed to.

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