Dan, in the introduction to your blog, you state that the chemical analysis of the radiocarbon samples is “all nicely peer-reviewed in scientific journals.” You go on to state that the chemical and physical properties of the images are also documented, “in peer-reviewed scientific journals.”
Such touting of the two words, “peer reviewed,” in a sense analogous to some sort of seal of approval by scientists, made good sense years ago. Now, to the minds of scientists everywhere in every field, it sounds hollow, almost comically supercilious. Without knowing that the peer review was conducted by a reputable and ethical journal, the approbation is meaningless. Paperless and on-demand publishing, virtual internet offices, pay-per-click advertising and the concept called open access have created more bad journals than good ones. Anonymous peer review, which should be the ideal, can and often means two guys with laptops in a Tiki bar.
For a more complete picture you might want to read some of the material at Nature’s Peer Review Debates.
Here is the Table of Contents from those debates. In and of itself it is very interesting to read:
Nature’s trial of open peer review
Despite enthusiasm for the concept, open peer review was not widely popular, either among authors or by scientists invited to comment. by Sarah Greaves, Joanna Scott, Maxine Clarke, Linda Miller, Timo Hannay, Annette Thomas, Philip Campbell / doi:10.1038/nature05535 Full Text
Online frontiers of the peer-reviewed literature
The Internet is allowing much more interactive science publishing by Theodora Bloom / doi:10.1038/nature05030 Full Text
Trusting data’s quality
Database publication presents unique challenges for the peer reviewer by Brenda Riley / doi:10.1038/nature04993 Full Text
Opening up the process
An open, two-stage peer-review journal
The editors of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics explain their journal’s approach. by Thomas Koop and Ulrich Pöschl / doi:10.1038/nature04988 Full Text
Reviving a culture of scientific debate
Can ‘open peer review’ work for biologists? Biology Direct is hopeful. by Eugene Koonin, Laura Landweber, David Lipman and Ros Dignon / doi:10.1038/nature05005 Full Text
Quality and value
The true purpose of peer review
1) What you can’t measure, you can’t manage: the need for quantitative indicators in peer review by Charles Jennings / doi:10.1038/nature05032 Full Text
2) Models of quality control for scientific research by Tom Jefferson / doi:10.1038/nature05031 Full Text
How can we get the best out of peer review?
A recipe for good peer review by Trish Groves / doi:10.1038/nature04995 Full Text
Statistics in peer review
Researchers need reviewers to check their stats. by David Ozonoff / oi:10.1038/nature04989 Full Text
How can we research peer review?
Improving the peer-review process relies on understanding its context and culture. by Joan E. Sieber / doi:10.1038/nature05006 Full Text
Trust and reputation on the web
Online publications have several ways to give themselves a good name. by William Arms / doi:10.1038/nature05035 Full Text
Does a digital workflow make it easier to detect ethical breeches in peer review? by Dale Benos / doi:10.1038/nature04996 Full Text
What is it for?
What authors, editors and reviewers should do to improve peer review. by Kirby Lee and Lisa Bero / doi:10.1038/nature05007 Full Text
Evolving peer review for the internet
Peer review needs to adapt to the pace and volume of information published online by Richard Akerman / doi:10.1038/nature04997 Full Text
Wisdom of the crowds
Scientific publishers should let their online readers become reviewers. by Chris Anderson / doi:10.1038/nature04992 Full Text
Certification in a digital era
What functions do we take for granted in print? by Herbert Van de Sompel / doi:10.1038/nature05008 Full Text
The case for group review
Peer review would be improved by discussions across the lab. by Debomoy Lahiri / doi:10.1038/nature05033 Full Text
Peer review of interdisciplinary scientific papers
Boundary-crossing research meets border patrol by Christopher Lee / doi:10.1038/nature05034 Full Text
‘I don�t know what to believe’
Understanding peer review is key to developing informed opinions about scientific research. by Tracey Brown / doi:10.1038/nature04998 Full Text
The pros and cons of open peer review
Should authors be told who their reviewers are? by Thomas DeCoursey / doi:10.1038/nature04991 Full Text
Does peer review mean the same to the public as it does to scientists?
Even reviewed literature can be cherry-picked to support any argument. by John Moore / doi:10.1038/nature05009 Full Text