Scott Marks 2:48 p.m., May 23
UC San Diego sociology professor Richard Biernacki has won a two-year legal battle over his right to publish work critical of peer review methods in the social sciences, the university’s The Guardian reports.
Biernacki’s book * Reinventing Evidence in Social Inquiry* has been released for publication and will go on sale next month.
“All the examples in the book are about problems that come along with trying to interpret the meaning of primary texts,” says Biernacki, whose text focuses on the assertion that peer review of social science research is not as rigorous as is typical in physical science.
“I can see why people feel uncomfortable, because I’m critiquing methods that are so widely used,” he continues in the Guardian. “But I’m not exempt. I’m critiquing my own use of these methods as well, because I have used them myself. I think social scientists treat each other with kid gloves, because we’re so unsure of what we’re doing.”
Biernacki had previously been under a gag order issued by Dean of Social Sciences Jeff Elman, who said his criticism of a colleague in the university’s sociology department constituted harassment. The order also threatened Biernacki with termination if he were to request data from the National Science Foundation.