Critical Essay on the Necessity of Peer Review in the Scientific Field

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Peer review is an essential step when it comes to publishing an article or even a book. It is when you get someone in the same field or a field similar to evaluate work ready to be published. Peer review is extremely necessary as it ensures the quality of work is up to a good standard and has reliable information referenced. Peer-reviewed articles are important as they keep up with current trends and any other research in a variety of fields. Knowing how important peer review helps when research is being done as you know what you’re reading is factually correct.

Someone who didn’t consider peer review is Andrew Wakefield. He wrote a paper linking the MMR vaccine which treats mumps, measles, and rubella, to autism. He quoted: “I believe there is a causal association between the MMR vaccine and autism in many children for several reasons” (Cook, 2016). Since the release of his research paper, he has become one of the most controversial figures in the eyes of vaccinators, as well as in the autism spectrum. His ‘theory’ began when in 1995, a small group of parents approached Wakefield and said their children had developed autism after receiving the MMR vaccine. He quickly looked into a possible connection, but when one wasn’t proven, he came up with the theory that if the vaccine had caused inflammation in their intestines, the children could develop what’s known as ‘leaky gut syndrome’, which makes it possible for harmful chemicals to make their way to the children’s brain. Then, without getting it peer-reviewed, he published his research, causing chaos in the medical industry. However, the General Medical Council ruled this to be untrue. Newspapers tend to overexaggerate every headline as it gets them good press. Looking at an article from 2019 about the MMR vaccine and autism, the headline states ‘What Is the MMR Vaccine, What Are the Side Effects, When Was It Introduced and Why Was It Linked to Autism?”. The article then goes on to mention how you should ‘protect’ your child from the vaccine. Considering the GMC crushed the theory years ago, it’s a shocker that articles like this are still being allowed out, especially because they’re so factually incorrect.

Another non-peer-reviewed scandal was in 2015 when an ISU scientist went to jail for fraudulent research. Dong-Pyou Han was a research scientist at Iowa State University when he faked the results of his AIDS-vaccine experiment research paper. He wrongfully spiked some rabbit blood samples with human HIV antibodies, making it appear that his vaccine can allow animals to become immune to the deadly virus. Not only did he fool hundreds of thousands, but he also collected more than $20 million in federal grants to help with his research. Han was sentenced to 57 months in prison and has been fined $7.2 million.

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Due to constant non-peer-reviewed articles tricking the general public, there’s now a lot more resistance to new theories and it is a lot harder to get an idea out there. The acceptance of a theory takes a long time to be approved and it needs to be proven that it’s true. Because of this, it may take months to years for a theory to be published, however, even longer if an idea gets turned down. One example of resistance to new scientific theories is ‘the atom’. When the Austrian physicist Ludwig Boltzmann proposed that all matter was made up of molecules and atoms in the late 1800s, his idea wasn’t taken lightly and it was strange to a lot of people. Ludwig Boltzmann had stumbled on the idea when he developed his theory on gases, but for those questioning his theories, he had no way to prove that these atoms actually existed. Ernst Mach, a very big scientist during that period, laughed at the idea that something so small could exist. However, it wasn’t until 1906, that Albert Einstein noticed slight movements of pollen grains in water which was perfectly still. Einstein was able to prove Boltzmann’s theory, but unfortunately, Ludwig Boltzmann had died a year previously, so he wasn’t able to see his theory be accepted.

Evolution is something that even now, isn’t taken too seriously due to personal opinion or even religion. Darwin’s theory of evolution came around in the mid-1800s when the Bible’s creation of Earth was at its prime. Darwin’s theory is not easily taken as it challenges the Bible in the sense that God made animals, plants, rivers, people, etc. Darwin proposed that the characteristics that allowed the species to survive will be passed on throughout each generation and that individuals with characteristics most suited to the environment they are present in are most likely to survive and breed. This is known as natural selection and it is still a theory as no one has confirmed it to be true or false.

In conclusion, I believe that peer review is incredibly important to make sure that whatever is being published, is published to its best ability. Peer review is also important for the upcoming theories that are not yet published, as scientists are struggling to breakthrough through scientific resistance which is still rather prominent in theories today. To break this resistance, I personally believe that peer review should be mandatory in every piece of scientific writing that is awaiting to be published.


  1. BBC Bitesize, 2020. Evolution. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 10 11 2020].
  2. Cook, L., 2016. How the MMR Vaccine Is Linked to Autism and the CDC Cover-Up. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 10 11 2020].
  3. Dvorsky, G., 2015. The Most Notorious Science Scandals of 2015. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 10 11 2020].
  4. Gritt, E., 2019. SPOT CHECK What Is the MMR Vaccine, What Are the Side Effects, When Was It Introduced and Why Was It Linked to Autism? [Online] Available at: [Accessed 10 11 2020].
  5. NHS, 2010. Ruling on Doctor in MMR Scare. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 10 11 2020].
  6. Reardon, S., 2015. US Vaccine Researcher Sentenced to Prison for Fraud. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 10 11 2020].
  7. Rudy, L. J., 2020. Andrew Wakefield's Theories About MMR Vaccines and Autism. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 10 11 2020].
  8. Science Alert, n.d. What Is Scientific Peer Review? [Online] Available at:,in%20the%20same%20or%20similar%20field%20of%20study [Accessed 10 11 2020].
  9. Science for the Public, 2020. Resistance to New Ideas. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 10 11 2020].
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Critical Essay on the Necessity of Peer Review in the Scientific Field. (2023, October 11). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from
“Critical Essay on the Necessity of Peer Review in the Scientific Field.” Edubirdie, 11 Oct. 2023,
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