Kurt made an excellent point in a comment, and I think it merits a discussion of its own:
Of course, there is still the chance the blog author interprets the study incorrectly but that is a fault you will find in any type of journalism.
Are there any guidelines for how BPR3 will handle this issue? There has been a fair amount of discussion about what constitutes peer-reviewed research, but it seems to me that in most cases the answer to that question is pretty self-evident. Far more nebulous is the question of the accuracy of the blogger providing the commentary.
I asked about this in an earlier comment, but no one followed up on it, so let me pose it again. To give a concrete example, ID proponents have been known to (deliberately or out of ignorance) misinterpret peer-reviewed research to suggest that it supports ID. It’s only a matter of time before someone doing this wants to put a BPR3 icon and link on their blog entry. If BPR3.org keeps a database of links, whoever maintains this database will be faced with the question of how to handle this situation. This might be easier if some guidelines are drawn up beforehand.
Here’s how I imagine we might handle this issue:
- Credentialling of blog authors is probably a bad idea — some expert bloggers have good reasons for being anonymous, and there are many blogs run by graduate students, journalists, and others without PhDs that offer thoughtful commentary on peer-reviewed literature
- Instead, we could have bloggers register their blogs here. Then we will (eventually) have an aggregation system which will allow links to those blogs’ posts about peer-reviewed research to appear on this site.
- If a blog appears to be abusing the system, either by not meeting our definition of peer review, or not commenting thoughtfully on the article, then readers could alert us and we could remove them from the list of registered blogs. How exactly would that process work? We’re open for suggestions.
- A secondary process could be used to combat abuse of the icon itself (whether or not the blog is actually aggregated here). This would require BPR3 to maintain copyright of the icon, so that we could deny permission to use the icon to those who abuse it. Again, we’d love to hear suggestions about how that might work.
Any other ideas/suggestions? Let us know in the comments.
Update: There’s a discussion about this post over at Larry Moran’s Sandwalk.