On a whim, I asked my Twitterverse (which includes a fair number of computer scientists) what they think about the following question:
When peer-reviewing somebody else’s work submitted for publication, what should you do if you find that the authors have a different belief than you about what can be known?
There were only 11 answers and they are unlikely to be representative, but they are still amazing to me.
Three people thought their worldview should prevail and guide the review of the paper. I think a mismatch in epistemological perspective will invariably lead to a reject of the paper, because I can’t see people agree on research methods.
Six people thought that they should adopt the submitters’ worldview. While this may sound accommodating, I don’t see how one can be an expert in multiple worldviews and corresponding research methods. How can a quality review result?
Two jokers decided to choose “give up and retire”. While I sympathize, this is hardly a solution to the problem.
My choice would be to return the review request to the editor, explain the situation and ask for advice. In all likelihood, I would end up declaring myself unsuitable for the review.
Surprisingly, my choice got zero votes. Now, I feel special 😉
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