$RANDOMLUSER writes "A new study described at Physicsworld.com claims that a small percentage of shoddy or self-interested referees can have a drastic effect on published article quality. The research shows that article quality can drop as much as one standard deviation when just 10% of referees do not behave 'correctly.' At high levels of self-serving or random behavior, 'the peer-review system will not perform much better than by accepting papers by throwing (an unbiased) coin.' The model also includes calculations for 'friendship networks' (nepotism) between authors and reviewers. The original paper, by a pair of complex systems researchers, is available at arXiv.org. No word on when we can expect it to be peer reviewed."
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