Anyone Can Publish Anything

Anyone Can Publish Anything August 5, 2015

Chris Skinner quote not everyone is an expert

Chris Skinner posted on his blog a follow-up to his post about citing online sources, and in particular blogs. I thought this excerpt was worth sharing with a wider audience.

By and large, those who appear to reject peer review or find it objectionable seem to be those who want a broad hearing for their ideas but aren’t willing or don’t regularly subject their work to peer review. Here’s a fact we cannot get around: not everyone interested in a given field of study can, is, or will be considered an expert in that field. Further,  not every idea is worthy of being considered or taken seriously.

Quite frankly, anyone (and I do mean ANYONE) can publish anything (and I do mean ANYTHING) on the internet. Peer review is not perfect. It is neither an exact science nor free from bias, but neither is it is completely arbitrary. While peer review may not guarantee quality in every case, it remains the necessary gate-keeping mechanism within academic biblical studies and should not be jettisoned. I’m frankly surprised we even need to have this conversation.

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  • arcseconds

    Maybe Chris Skinner needs to change fields to something with less popular appeal 🙂

    We have the technology to do something better than peer review + citations, I always reckon. Citation indexes are a step in the right direction, but what I have in mind is a web of approval, or maybe even a double web of approval, one linking individuals and the other linking works through citations, or something.

    If this was as obvious as disqus upvotes, then on seeing an article one could immediately see what regard it has, through some kind of approval summary.

    Also, cliques of mutual approval would become obvious at first sight. It might be possible to demonstrate easily from the web of approval that biblical scholarship is no more an approval isolate than any other academic field (or, conversely, that it is isolated in approval even from related disciplines).

    One could imagine this working solely through self-publishing. If you’re a mover and shaker in your field, it might get read by practically everyone of note pretty quickly, so would shoot ahead in approvals almost immediately (assuming it is indeed approved of). A rank-and-file academic might slowly gather approval (and therefore more notice) as it comes to people’s attention. An outsider or someone beginning their career would have to find someone already in the web of approval to take notice of it.

    If it was appropriately designed, there wouldn’t be any need for a separate activity of ‘gatekeeping’. Mythicists and apologists and mainstream scholars would all be seeing the same web, but the three groups would naturally form three different sub-webs. Mythicists and mythicist articles would only rarely be approved of by mainstream scholars.

    Obviously that’s a bit handwavey, but hopefully you can see the general idea.

    And I’m sure I’m not the first to have thought of it…

    • Google’s reporting of citation numbers is getting better, and might be helpful, although one can game any automated system by producing a lot of things that look like scholarship, and which cite one another. Young-earth creationists have been trying to do precisely that. But it is still useful information!