Academia as the industry of self promotion
August 26, 2007
The objective of academic activity in general, and of academic publishing in particular, is to further the career (i.e., salary and prestige) of the academics involved. It is a standard belief that peer review is the sieve that turns academic self-promotion into a productive scientific process. Often academics and others go so far as to state the much stronger belief that peer review is an efficient, or even the most efficient, method of fostering the creation of scientific work.
There are those academics in the natural sciences who see much of the social sciences as being nonsense. That is their view of the discipline, rather than of academic activity. The view that most academic activity (regardless of the field) is pure self-promotion and has nothing to do with science, or is even detrimental to science, is generally not heard in elite (e.g. acedemic) circles (at least not in those that I have been part of). Yet, as the system is set up, it would be very surprising if this were not so.