Commercial Horticulture Educator
Waukesha County UW-Extension
In the age of the internet, information is cheap, easy and everyone has an opinion. That’s great if you’re trying to pick a paint color or a movie. It’s not so great if you’re trying to save your tree or get rid of the bees under your siding. Some things in life really do require accuracy and, if I may so, facts. It’s pretty great that some people still pride themselves in just that – accurate, reliable and unbiased information.
This is where peer review comes in. In the sciences, once you complete your research, analyze it, and write it up, other people have to look at it before it’s published. It’s not just anyone who gets to review it. It has to be reviewed by other scientists engaged it the same type of work. They make sure that you’ve set up your experiment the right way, that you collected and analyzed the data appropriately and finally that the conclusions based on your data makes sense. If they don’t agree that you did a good job, then you don’t get published. It’s that simple (and beautiful).
We use this same process at UW-Extension. We check each other’s work. Whenever we write a publication, three people review it. We pride ourselves on being accurate, reliable and unbiased. So the next time you’re reading through the comment section of your favorite gardening website and you see the recommendation of pouring gasoline on the beehive and setting it on fire to get rid of the bees, take a minute. Think about if anyone checked their work…