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What does “peer-reviewed” mean in research?

Updated: Feb 28, 2023

By: The Entire UAPx Team October. 20, 2022 Edited: Jeremy McGowan, VP UAPx

“A peer-reviewed publication is also sometimes referred to as a scholarly publication. The peer-review process subjects an author’s academic work, research, or ideas to the scrutiny of others who are experts in the same field (peers). It is considered necessary to ensure academic/scientific quality.” [1] We wish to emphasize the importance of the phrase “to ensure academic/scientific quality.” Peer review is no easy task; it takes long hours on all sides. For the UAP topic, the lack of an established scientific discipline and the inherently interdisciplinary nature makes this especially hard. The fact that the study of UAPs still suffers from a significant stigma will make it even harder to publish anything.

Peer review is not a perfect system, and many peer-reviewed journals still end up with “wrong results” published as papers. Reviewing scientists are humans too, with finite time and other responsibilities, and sometimes papers don’t receive the needed scrutiny. Moreover, “null results,” where “nothing” is found, are a crucial part of science.

Typically, the journal editor selects at least 2–3 reviewers depending on the field and the journal. Usually, they must be Ph.D. scientists or have a degree in engineering or another relevant field. What they must be are subject matter experts. Their names are *not* revealed to the authors; in fact, one reviewer will often not know who the other reviewers are either. This is known as a “blind” review and is required to avoid positive or negative consequences (either direction) caused by individuals knowing who is reviewing them. In some cases, reviews are double-blind, where the author’s identity is hidden as much as possible.

In physics and closely allied fields: before the completion of the review, so-called “preprints” of papers are often submitted to a website called arXiv.org or preprints.org, allowing anyone to read at least the initial versions of documents before any review. That includes anyone in the general public, making it possible for them to access the article for free without paying for the article from a journal. In some cases, a prominent journal like Science or Nature may “embargo” a result, especially a significant discovery, until a specific date, meaning the free “pre-print” version cannot be made public until later, if at all.

Publishing papers also often requires payment of page charges to fund publication. For instance, when the authors are not under the aegis of a large funded collaborative project, the payment may be an impossible goal of a few thousand dollars. The fact that the authors are required to pay money to have their paper published biases some unreputable journals toward accepting “anything.” That is another problem with the current system. However, making publication free to the authors often means no one can read the paper without paying the journal. This requires universities or laboratories to pay for a subscription to journals of interest. Open access means that the paper is available to the public without charge. However, this means someone else must pay since journal editors require salaries and staff. It is a zero-sum game, a no-win scenario.

UAPx is working tirelessly to analyze the data from our first expedition. Our work ensures that we correctly interpret any ambiguous or potentially anomalous data we have in hand. Our goal was to have at least one manuscript on arXiv (free) by the end of this year, at least on our instrumentation, but this is unlikely to be the case. We’ve pushed back that (self-imposed) deadline to ensure nothing but platinum-standard work is published. Rest assured: our work isn’t delayed. Analysis continues daily, but before we can attempt an initial informal internal review, there is much work to do and much to triple-check.

This is an opportunity for you to understand what we are dedicated to achieving. Adding more Ph.D. physicists to our team will allow us to utilize these scientists’ expertise to improve our publications, even before the first versions come out. We will need to climb the mountain of finding a scientific journal in which to publish when there exists no dedicated high-quality journal focused on UAP. Furthermore, we have nearly no peers in the scientific community. Other UAP groups will have to face the same challenges, so we can hopefully all work together to surmount these issues with open minds and open hearts. Sometimes the same paper in an established field, not even one as “fringe” as UAPs, can be outright rejected by *multiple* journals before a journal accepts the work, sometimes after many major revisions, taking a great deal of time and energy from the authors. Sometimes reviewers require more data before publication. Of course, there are times when authors have done less than excellent work, but there are times when papers are rejected because of an imperfect system, which can have its own biases against small colleges and particular topics. We are all eager to obtain scientific results and publish them, and we are working furiously toward this objective. In the meantime, please read the slides from this summer’s presentation of our preliminary results to the Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies (SCU):


https://www.uapexpedition.org/post/another-brick-in-the-wall. A video of the entire presentation and the subsequent question and answer (Q&A) session is planned to be made public in December 2022.

  1. What Does It Mean When a Publication Is Peer Reviewed? | U.S. Geological Survey. 10 Nov. 2020, www.usgs.gov/faqs/what-does-it-mean-when-publication-peer-reviewed.



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