In 2018, I talked with Melinda Baldwin (Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland) about a fascinating article she authored entitled “Scientific Autonomy, Public Accountability, and the Rise of “Peer Review” in the Cold War United States” (Isis, volume 109, number 3, September 2018).
This thought-provoking Scholarly Kitchen piece dips into the controversial question: “Is. it the job of the peer review process to catch research cheats and frauds?” Really another unpaid role, that remains woefully unrecognised by research institutions, funding bodies and academic publishers.
I ask Melinda here to take us through her perspective on the role of peer review in context for scientific fraud from her perspective as a historian of science – a perspective that I hope you agree sheds a clear light on the benefits and limitations of peer review in the scientific endeavor.
I’m going to give an annoying non-answer: it depends on who you ask! Journal editors may have different answers from scientists, who have different answers from members of the public interested in scientific findings.