As a scientist with a 15 year career behind me so far, I am afraid that my experiences reflect this. Peer review is excellent in theory but not in practice. Much of the time, the only vetting the papers get are two relatively junior people in a field (often grad students or postdocs) giving it a thumbs up or thumbs down. That is absolutely it. In theory, the editors should make the decisions with the recommendations of the reviewers, but the editors rarely have the time or the expertise to judge the papers and often automatically defer to reviewers. Also, the papers should be reviewed by luminaries of the field, but these folks rarely have the time, and either decline invitations or bounce the work to a student or another trainee. It’s not just bad papers that get through, but also good, rigorous, papers that are bounced by this system.

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