In a thought-provoking blog post, Adam Mastroianni (Columbia Business School) recently stated: “There are two kinds of problems in the world: strong-link problems and weak-link problems.” For weak-link problems, ” the overall quality depends on how good the worst stuff is”. (1) To fix them, we need to eliminate the weakest links or make them stronger. That’s why we have strict quality standards for food. Nobody wants to die because they picked the wrong tuna sandwich off the shelf!
Science, on the other hand, is a strong-link problem, Mastroianni argues: “In the long run, the best stuff is all that matters. The bad stuff doesn’t matter at all.”
In this guest blog, Sebastian Alers debates and analyzes some recent attitudes on science and peer review, in an attempt to call and draw attention to the importance of community-driven evaluation of research quality and impact.