No, there is no “tension between getting it fast and getting it right”

When reading Retraction Watch, I came across this quote:

“There is always a tension between getting it fast and getting it right,” said Dr. Marcia Angell, another former editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine. “I always favored getting it right. But in the current pandemic, that balance may have shifted too far toward getting it fast.”

On first hearing, this statement sounds reasonable.

Back when I took typing class in 9th grade, they taught us about the tradeoff between speed and accuracy. The faster you can type, the more errors you make.

But I’m thinking this doesn’t apply so much in science. It’s almost the opposite: the quicker you get your ideas out there, the more you can get feedback and find the problems.

OK, not completely. You don’t want to publish something that’s a hot mess, that will just waste the time of your readers.

But I’m guessing that traditional peer review will not catch this sort of thing anyway.

A longer post-publication review period is fine, but let’s do it out in the open. I don’t think a longer secret pre-publication review will help anything.

Sequential decision making, baby. Sequential decision making.

Also check out this comment from Chris Crandall about a recently-retracted paper in psychology:

Decisions about acceptance/rejection/revision are made by the editor and not the reviewers. If there is a failure of peer review here, the responsibility lies primarily with the action editor (and the policy set by the senior editor/association), who selects reviewers, interprets their advice, makes the decision, oversees revisions, and accepts the paper. I have heard from one reviewer of this paper, a very statistically sophisticated person, who tried to get the editor to reject the paper based on the very low quality of the data and the over-interpretation of it.

It’s important to focus on where the real responsibility lies—we’re often unsure about the nature of what the reviewers did, but the ultimately responsibility lies in the hands of the person who made the decision, and not her/his advisors.