Enlarge (credit: Cecilia Gudín)
Peer review is supposed to act as a sanity check on science.

A few learned scientists take a look at your work, and if it withstands their objective and entirely neutral scrutiny, a journal will happily publish your work. As those links indicate, however, there are some issues with peer review as it is currently practiced. Recently, Benjamin List, a researcher and journal editor in Germany, and his graduate assistant, Denis Höfler, have come up with a genius idea for improving matters: something called selected crowd-sourced peer review.
A cynic’s view of peer review
Pardon a bit of editorializing here.

The cynical and somewhat accurate view of peer review is that a few grumpy old men are given prior access to your work.

Depending on their mood, medication, and memory, one of three things happens: they forget about it, leaving you and your manuscript languishing in limbo—remember that scientific productivity is measured in papers, so delayed papers means no productivity.
Or, the reviewers may happen to remember your paper but couldn’t really give the tiniest hint of caring about your work, so they write some bland and unhelpful comments that seem essentially random. Most entertaining of all, though, is the researcher who discovers that you’ve just done what they really wanted to do, and they would rather be damned to an eternity of committee work than let you publish. (Of course, I should note that I fall into none of these categories, and my reviews are a picture of perfect peer performance.)
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