The Underpublishing of Science and Technology Results

In a recent proposal to compensate journal peer reviewers,1 I emphasized the role of peer review as a strong quality filter. In response, Alexander Berezin states that without peer review, "scientists will likely publish less."2 Unfortunately, his envisioned scenario would, in fact, open the floodgates to lower-quality publications. Though the belief exists that there is too much data being placed in the literature due to publication pressure, there is actually a very modest amount of S&a

Ronald Kostoff
May 1, 2000

In a recent proposal to compensate journal peer reviewers,1 I emphasized the role of peer review as a strong quality filter. In response, Alexander Berezin states that without peer review, "scientists will likely publish less."2 Unfortunately, his envisioned scenario would, in fact, open the floodgates to lower-quality publications.

Though the belief exists that there is too much data being placed in the literature due to publication pressure, there is actually a very modest amount of S&T that is documented relative to what could, and should, be documented. Except for unclassified academic research, motivations for the remainder of science and technology performers for documenting their output are not high:

* For truly breakthrough research, from which the performer would be able to profit substantially, the incentives are to conceal rather than reveal.

* For research that aims to uncover product problems, there is little motivation (from the vendor, sponsor,...

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