A new website for neuroscience called The Third Reviewer has been generating some comment in the blogosphere (DrugMonkey’s and Dr. O’s blogs, among others).
One of the things that bugs me it is that commenting is anonymous. My position: Anonymity doesn’t improve things (see here and here). The ostensible reason it is the way it is because people “fear reprisals.”
Has science become that much like the mob?
Are we as a group that thin-skinned, petty and vindictive that we’re going to put out a hit someone’s grant or whack another scientist’s pub because they didn’t think we used the right statistical test?
And if the answer is yes, we should start asking ourselves why that bad behaviour is tolerated, and how we can get rid of it.
Besides, anyone who believes they can safely remain anonymous on the web is fooling themselves. Own every word you speak.
Personally, I doubt I’ll be commenting on papers on The Third Reviewer website, for much the same reason John Stewart doesn’t use Twitter: He has a TV show. I have a blog. If I have something substantive to say, I’ll say it here.
I wish the guys behind the site luck, because I think they’ll need it. The history of researchers commenting on published papers is... not encouraging. Many papers on, say, PLoS ONE don’t even a star rating, which is also anonymous, but much easier than writing a specific comment.