Friday, May 07, 2010

Peer review: pros and cons

by Chris Hargreaves

Chris Hargreaves
About the Author

Dr Chris Hargreaves is a lecturer at the Centre for Forensic Computing at Cranfield University in Shrivenham, UK.

Traditional academic publications are peer reviewed, e.g. journal papers and conference proceedings, and there are now many examples of these that specifically cover digital forensics (e.g. Digital Investigation, Journal of Digital Forensic Practice). However, a considerable amount of useful forensic research is available from what are, in traditional academic terms, considered to be less reliable sources of information (including resources such as blogs, non-peer reviewed papers and forum posts). This article highlights the strengths of these media for distributing results of digital forensic research, but also discusses the value that is added when even a brief discussion of the methods used to obtain the results, and an open discussion of the limitations of the research is included when posting results online.

One of the main advantages of peer-reviewed publications in a journal or in conference proceedings is that one or more other people in the field have examined it and they have independently decided that the paper is suitable for publication. This peer-review process ensures that the author has discussed and explained contradictory theories and considered whether the results obtained are general or due to carefully chosen specific experiments. It also ensures that conclusions drawn are well supported by evidence and that enough information is contained for experiments to be repeated and the results verified. The criteria by which a publication can be judged as suitable can vary, but is also likely to include criteria such as technical accuracy, whether the results can be generalised, relevance, timeliness, etc. This process is in place to ensure that the published work has a certain level of quality...

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1 comment:

Jim the Phoenix Property Manager said...

"evidence and that enough information is contained for experiments to be repeated and the results verified"

Peer Reviews are powerful and this is why peer reviews are so popular and strong. Ultimately it depends on the "peer review" source as there are people out there that create media location specifically to look like peers when in fact they have a biased reason to base that decision.

As long as the peer review source has a correspondingly excellent reputation, then it carries a TOn of weight.