The Boston Globe offers a good look at how peer review of medical research by medical journals is not perfect.
In the Globe: “Now, after a study that sent reverberations through the medical profession by finding that almost one-third of top research articles have been either contradicted or seriously questioned, some specialists are calling for radical changes in the system.”
The Globe says it is difficult to discover what goes wrong in peer review when it does go wrong, largey because “peer reviewers are unpaid, anonymous, and unaccountable. Moreover, their reviews are kept confidential, making it impossible to know the parameters of the reviews.”
The take-home message for journalists and consumers is: if you’re going to treat each journal article as gospel, you’re putting your faith in a flawed process.