Is Peer Review Honest?

February 8, 2008

Jyllian Kemsley

AN ASSISTANT PROFESSOR at a state university submitted a paper to a well-known chemistry journal. The paper quickly received two positive reviews, then a very tardy negative review. After a revision, the submission again languished in the hands of the negative reviewer.

That reviewer, the professor suspects, was a senior colleague who was doing experiments similar to those chronicled in the paper. The professor had requested samples from the colleague to further the work but never received them. When the frustrated assistant professor contacted the journal editor and asked whether the colleague was indeed the tardy reviewer, the paper was accepted nine hours later.

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