An older article (2006) from the New York Times reminds us that the sanctity of the academic journal peer review process cannot be sanctified. A quote from that article on medical review: “Virtually every major scientific and medical journal has been humbled recently by publishing findings that are later discredited. The flurry of episodes has led many people to ask why authors, editors and independent expert reviewers all failed to detect the problems before publication.” Perhaps, like democracy, peer review has its problems, but it remains (at its best) the best solution among many.
At its worst the peer review process maintains false paradigms and outdated traditions. Many have been highlighted here, from the nesting of Vancleavea with archosaurs to the nesting of Tetraceratops and Casea with synapsids and mesosaurs with basal reptiles. Clades of scientists review each other’s work and pass through commonly held beliefs unsupported by testing on the scale of the large reptile tree.
I’m currently blackballed due to stepping on several professional toes with my observations and insights. I can’t get the simplest abstract published. Even when I’ve “seen the specimen” it doesn’t seem to matter to the keepers of the status quo. New ideas backed up with hard evidence coming from me are not acceptable.
Take for example the Cosesaurus issue. Here is a taxon with an antorbital fenstra, a pteroid, preaxial carpal, stem-like coracoids, strap-like scapulae, four sacrals, an elongated ilium, a fused pubis/ischium, a pteroid, appressed fibula, reduced metatarsal 5, elongated p5.1 and several other otherwise pterosaurian traits. A paper describing these traits (many had already been published) was rejected by referees in the pterosaur community. The paper included admission of past errors in observation highlighted here. Evidently the refs preferred that the origin of pterosaurs remain a mystery and that someone from their professional ranks should discover the origin of pterosaurs. That has so far fallen flat.
I’m comforted by the fact that nothing can be discovered twice and that scientific publication is broadening its horizons to include online data and hypotheses. Science is where you find it, even though some choose to look the other way.
As always, I encourage readers to see specimens, make observations and come to your own conclusions. Test. Test. And test again.
Evidence and support in the form of nexus, pdf and jpeg files will be sent to all who request additional data.