It's no secret that we've got some serious problems with the way the old school scientific journals work -- basically locking up scientific research rather than really living up to their mandate to spread scientific knowledge. Stephen alerts us to a separate issue with traditional journal publications: how they handle the followup discussion. There's a great blog post at Scienceblogs, that compares two separate journal articles
where readers felt that the results were falsified in some way (despite being peer reviewed). In one, the scientist had to go to hell and back just to get the editors publish a comment questioning the original article. In the second, even though the article was published in a journal, an outside blog post and its comments became an impromptu forum to question the data in the article -- with many scientists conducting the same experiment themselves and posting the results (including photos) in real-time.
The second one is obviously a lot more of the way research should
work these days, though it shouldn't all be hidden in a separate site's comments. If journals are serious about advancing knowledge, rather than locking it up, why not give up on the obviously faulty simple peer review process, and open up the content so that knowledgeable people can input their own thoughts in comments directly on the article in question? Isn't that what knowledge exchange is supposed to be about?