The rising popularity of uncontrolled peer-to-peer networking is having an effect on the classic role of peer review for research validation, one of the core functions of academic publishing, reports the New York Times. But if some researchers are worried by the potential loss of rigor in the assessment process, others see it as liberating. “Having a paper peer-reviewed is not necessarily an indication that the paper is right,” said Subodh Patil, a post-doctoral physicist at the École Polytechnique in Paris. “We all peer-review, but it is no longer as significant as it was before.” ArXiv.org, which emerged in 1991 from Cornell University, was one of the earliest applications of academic social networking. An open-source internet platform, designed to be used by researchers as a communication tool, it revolutionized the way scientists shared findings before official publication in journals. ArXiv.org, updated daily, allows free worldwide access and response to almost 600,000 online research papers in physics, mathematics, computer science, and more, increasingly sidelining the role of traditional print journals. “Scientists used to mail each other ‘pre-prints’ of journals—which would rarely happen between a scientist from MIT and say, New Delhi,” said Patil. He added: “The scientific literature was always six months behind the current research. … [Journal articles now] are almost irrelevant, and many teachers don’t even bother writing them anymore.” In contrast to journal publication, which is the outcome of a lengthy assessment process, social media postings provide “a real-time snapshot of the front of the state of the art at that particular moment,” he said…

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