Amazingly, they intend to make peer review worse

No, really:

But academics have privately expressed alarm at the potential for slipping standards, where journals value citation diversity quotas above the quality of ideas.

Meanwhile, guidelines for the 45-year-old Review of International Studies, published by Cambridge University Press, urge “paying particular attention to the representativeness of citational practices manifested in all article submissions”.

“Recent studies have highlighted the possible under-representation of female and minority scholars in article citations,” authors are advised.

“Review of International Studies is committed to ensuring that scholars receive appropriate intellectual acknowledgement through citations, regardless of race, gender, class, professional standing, or other categorical attributes.”

This is rather a long way from the intended purpose, which is to check that “Hmm, interesting idea, can;t see anything wrong with it”.

Wonder if a paper on Goodhart’s Law – once something has become a target it’s no good as a measure any more – would get into print?

15 thoughts on “Amazingly, they intend to make peer review worse”

  1. Does it mean they’re also going to have to ask every potential citee if they’re a tranny or a shirtlifter, to meet quota?

  2. And further, for trannies does the quota category change between pre-“gender recognition” and post-? So papers by the same author would count towards the male quote one day, and female the next? Or do quotas get changed retrospectively, making papers that were once acceptably diverse now unacceptable and therefore no longer “the science”?

    Like much of modern “science”, they don’t appear to have put much thought behind this.

  3. I doubt the indicated groups are under-represented, what they probably mean is that they’re not noticably represented – ie, *over*represented. “Only 5% of authors are black!!!!” Yes, and??? Like that current Channel 4 campaign – why aren’t there more black people in TV? Because there aren’t more black people in the population, duh!

  4. This implies that real ‘science’ is simply going out of fashion, and the new magic religion is taking over. Instead of a spell, there’s a computer model. Instead of the results, the moral purity of the researcher determines the validity of their claim.

    Evidently it went that way as the Classical era ended. Or perhaps I should be thinking of the decline of Mahometan science after Ghazali pointed out the wicked immorality of actually looking at the evidence.

    One assumes that as the West decays into superstitious mysticism, the next pioneer of science and technology will be the National Socialist Chinese Workers Party. I must admit I really don’t want to have to learn to read and write Chinese!!

  5. race, gender, class, professional standing

    If I’m citing a paper by Zhang Li of Tsinghua University, how do I know their gender, class, or professional standing?

    Perhaps if I change my name to Latisha Hernandez (Xim/Xer) and write a catch-all paper on something like “correct use of the comma separator in numbers”, I can get a million citations by other researchers desperate to maintain their diversity quota.

  6. “Amazingly, they intend to make peer pal review worse”. That’s better. And they can’t. It’s tribal.

    As has been shown in climate science, peer review doesn’t, as we would like to think, consist of checking their working out and making sure there are no obvious clangers in there, it consists of blocking anything which doesn’t fit the agenda and giving an easy ride to those ‘on our side’.
    Also, as Ben Goldacre explained about drug trials, anything negative doesn’t tend get published, only the supportive stuff, which then gets cited here there and everywhere ’til it’s too late.

  7. Wonder if a paper on Goodhart’s Law – once something has become a target it’s no good as a measure any more – would get into print?

    If it became a reference wouldn’t it be automatically falsified?

  8. Makes for an easy benchmark, doesn’t it?

    If there’s worries about the “diversity” of a paper you can be utterly sure that whatever is expressed in it is not science.

    Bring on the anthropophagic felines.

  9. Academic papers purport to be about the advancement of science but are really about the advancement of careers. Was there once a golden age where this was not true?

  10. jgh,

    “Like that current Channel 4 campaign – why aren’t there more black people in TV? Because there aren’t more black people in the population, duh!”

    There’s also another reason, which is about job rewards. Do you want pay, prestige, fun, opportunities to meet women? TV, journalism, acting, music are overcrowded markets. Posh kids can do them because they don’t really need the money. And posh kids tend to be white.

    Go to a university day and all the useful degrees like computer science, pharmacy and medicine are heavily Asian. History and marine biology are nearly all white kids.

    The thing you find with most black actors is that they generally aren’t typical black kids. Many of them were born to affluent black parents.

  11. Can we augment the set of anthropophagic creatures? With all apologies to Steve he laid a hell of a job on the Lions and they could do with some help. We need some mustelids. How about Ursus maritimus? The climate loonies have traduced that animal badly so it could do with some payback.

  12. ‘the intended purpose, which is to check that “Hmm, interesting idea, can’t see anything wrong with it”.’ That’s not what I was taught when young. Of course you’d point to blunders, oversights, and so on. But the real duty, said my mentor, was to insist that the paper was clear enough and complete enough that the interested reader would be in a good position to conclude “interesting idea, can’t see anything wrong with it.” Or, “Ah hae ma doots, I might just try to replicate that”.

    Over the years journal editors started to produce check lists for referees to tick off. I didn’t find them helpful, on the whole, except that my interest was taken by the demand that I ensure that the paper’s abstract/summary/synopsis was an accurate representation of its contents. I inferred that editors were beginning to suspect that some submitting authors were crooks.

    So I paid particular attention to that suggestion and I concluded that those cynical editors were dead right.

  13. @N(UJ)G
    How many Nazis will be allowed? Diversity should mean diversity!

    And certified lunatics, convicted fraudsters, lawyers, PoRGs…you name it, the list is endless.

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