small logo Editorial

Reviewing the Review Process
by Dr. H. Paul Shuch, Executive Director

As a unifying voice for non-professional SETI research throughout the world, The SETI League receives a large number of submissions each year for Conference presentation and Proceedings publication, on a wide variety of topics related to the search for life in space. We are pleased to be able to include many of these submissions as presentations at our annual SETICon technical symposium, for publication in our Proceedings and Newsletter, and for posting to our extensive website.

In fact, our members' submissions have made The SETI League a prominent forum for open exploration of a variety of research topics, both traditional and unconventional. All we ask is that submitters adhere to the high standards of professionalism and scientific rigor that dedicated amateurs have long demonstrated. Our peer review process helps to ensure that these standards are met, without in any way inhibiting the free flow of ideas.

We welcome a diversity of views on scientific strategies for finding irrefutable evidence of ETI. But the resources for our conferences and publications are limited. Thus, we do not try to include the entire range of possible topics. Because there are other forums for UFO and abduction research, for instance, and for research based on ancient texts and ancient artifacts, we normally do not include these topics in our forums.

These policy decisions are adopted so that our forums can best fit the interests of the SETI League membership. We are not passing judgment on the value or the scientific methods of these topics and fields, simply their relevance to the SETI League's mission and membership.

Occasionally, a controversial paper on a SETI-related topic is submitted for consideration, about which the opinion of our reviewers is divided. In such cases it is our policy to err, if at all, on the side of acceptance, rather than exclusion. It is far easier for the reader to ignore a questionable or marginal presentation, than it is to infer meaning from a valuable but unconventional one that is omitted from the literature. In trying to err on the side of inclusion, we must emphasize that the opinions expressed in our Conference presentations, Proceedings, and the like are those of the individual authors, and may not necessarily represent the position or views of The SETI League, its members, officers, volunteers, donors, or commercial sponsors.

The SETI League endeavors to provide a solid scientific forum as well as a speculative one. Thus, inclusion of controversial material is often warranted in hindsight. After all, the early works of Hertz and Marconi were once considered controversial, as indeed were some of the SETI writings of Morrison, Drake… and yours truly.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in editorials are those of the individual authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of The SETI League, Inc., its Trustees, officers, Advisory Board, members, donors, or commercial sponsors.

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