I stumbled across an old post at Ars Technica by Chris Lee on adiabatic quantum computing that had some interesting things to say about peer review. The last paragraph reads,
There are a couple of curious things about adiabatic quantum computation that are a bit disturbing. Many of their publications have sat in the arXiv pre-print archive without making it into a peer-reviewed journal. One important paper has been noted as withdrawn, yet it is still cited on blogs at D-Wave. This makes me distrustful of the results presented in the papers, and it worries me that some authors are simply abandoning peer-reviewed publication, especially since one of the key papers is receiving a fair few citations despite remaining unpublished. If D-Wave turns out to have achieved what it claims to have, this will represent a huge failure on the part of peer-reviewed literature, and that is equally troublesome, since peer review is supposed to be open to new ideas while filtering for logic and novelty.
Now, since then there actually have been a few papers on AQC that have made it into peer-reviewed journals, e.g. this one that took three years to get published despite the distinguished list of authors. PRA and PRL have both started to publish papers on AQC, but it took awhile.
My own troubles with peer-review (at least in the quantum physics arena) are well-documented on this blog. Part of my problem is that I think differently from other people and human beings tend not to like things that are different. One might argue that this must lead to flaws, but, anecdotally, I played chess with someone recently who is pretty good. It was a well-fought, close game. Afterward he said he’d never seen the types of moves I’d made (and he’s one of these people who knows all the various strategies, etc.). This is no surprise, since I do my own thing, i.e. I’m not all that familiar with all those classic strategies. But my own style was good enough to push him to the very brink, though he finally won.
Anyway, I have long thought peer-review was shutting out some of the more innovative ideas in favor of ideas that don’t rock the boat much and, thus, don’t always lead to dramatic changes. I also think the single-blind system – particularly with the advent of the arXiv – allows personal bias to filter in since the reviewer knows who the author is right off the bat. I’m sure certain reviewers are biased against certain authors. In fact I recall reading that Julian Schwinger ran into these sorts of problems later in his career. At any rate, that’s why I hope D-Wave succeeds. If they can successfully make an AQC it’s yet another knock on peer-review. Unfortunately, that doesn’t solve the problem of the insularity of the various communities and sub-disciplines, but that’s a topic for another post.