What if peer-review process is killing thinking-out-of-the-box science?
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Scientific ideas and hypotheses may be accepted, refuted, criticized, or subject to rebuttal by researchers (e.g., Mayo and Spanos, 2008). Dogmas do not belong to the territory of science, and ending up in uncharted territories should be the most encouraging and hopeful achievement for a researcher (Lampel, 2016). However, modern science is quite different than the ideal image of a scientist in a lab coat looking for new results or staring to the horizon. The scientific world, instead of being supported by inspiration in search of new ideas or deep thinking, is now dominated by other aspects (Byers, 2014; King et al., 2018). Scientists are meticulously evaluated by their work, i.e., scientific contributions, funded projects, student tuition, and outreach activities, among others (Bornmann and Marx, 2014). To be promoted or to get a permanent position, several “tick boxes” need to be filled, especially those concerning paper production and funding securing (e.g., Moher et al., 2018; Schimanski and Alperin, 2018). These are often disconnected from the genuine goals of science, such as producing out-of-the-box ideas that are generally difficult to spread and accept (Wang et al., 2017; Mairesse and Pezzoni, 2021) or subjecting previous proposals to empirical testing to explore their reliability, a type of task that Scheiner (2013) considered as deficient in ecology. Thus, most researchers spend their time trying to get the ball rolling in this environment (Milem et al., 2000; Link et al., 2008).