Clearly this is in response to this ridiculously out dated paper in “Current Biology” (the emphasis is mine) Social Media Likes and Dislikes. Even though I said I wouldn’t do this, I did:
Back in the old days, before open access, preprints and post publication peer review, there existed an antiquated system where academics paid huge amounts of money to corporations that made huge profits, just so that they could publish their work, and they then spent hundreds of hours doing unpaid work for the very same companies, allowing them to generate yet more profit, all this whilst those companies charged University departments thousands of pounds to access the very work the university’s academics produced.
In this rather odd model, scientists would add the veneer of respectability afforded by anonymous peer review to their publications. Under this system, they would present their paper to a journal edited by one of their friends, and suggest reviewers from a group of people consisting of more friends, their brothers and sisters, their mum, people who owed them money, fake e-mail addresses, former lovers and a range of sycophantic past and present employees. Despite this pool of reviewers lacking objectivity, nonetheless they would snipe about the paper and metaphorically stab the authors in the back, safe behind a screen of anonymity, until such time as i) the eventual paper bore no resembleance to the original study, and ii) it was bloated with reviews and citations for all of the papers the reviewers themselves had written.
Choosing sycophantic and favourable reviewers was seen to be better than the alternative i.e. choosing people who actually knew what the paper was about. Though this strategy could work, there was a significant risk that the paper would be blocked from publication by terribly competitive scientists lacking almost completely in morality and self esteem, free to do so and protected by the screen of anonymity.
This process would take months, sometimes years, ensuring valuable science remained hidden until it was virtually irrelevant.
Although this system is clearly ludicrous, several out-dated dinosaurs clung desperately to it, terrified of change and a new world they clealy were not equipped to understand.