Are you familiar with the “Law of the Farm?” The Law reminds everyone that there are some activities that cannot be rushed. No matter how many tractors you have in the machine shed, it will take “x” number of days for a crop to grow. I was reminded of this when reading an e-mail from AGMA about it being peer review time for Fall Technical Meeting papers.
Even in years when I presented a paper of my own I made time to assist with the peer review process because it is the only way to insure that “good science” is done in our field. By having every paper read and commented on by other “experts” in that topic we protect ourselves from commercialism, poorly drawn conclusions, and ineffectively designed experiments.
While there is still plenty of room for differences in opinion, we all have a need to respect “honorable data.” A paper should contain enough information to allow an interested and informed observer to duplicate a calculation or experiment. It important to avoid fiascos like the “cold fusion” claims of many years ago.
A similar “peer review” process could have exposed the Madoff pyramid scheme in time to save millions of dollars and who knows how many jobs. Other fund managers had their performance measured against fictional results and did not exactly get gold stars on their copy books.
Preparation for the Fall Technical Meeting, like a well-managed farm, goes on all year long. As soon as one crop of papers is “harvested” the call goes out for abstracts that are considered for the following year. A group of experts looks over those ideas and selects some for further work. The authors then get busy writing and refining their first drafts. Before you know it, May 1st arrives and those drafts are submitted for peer review. The comments and suggestions are considered by the authors and a final draft is submitted for one last check.
Finally, a few weeks before the big event the authors can relax and work on their oral presentations of the written report; it is not just a matter of reading the paper at the lectern. In addition to a nice plaque for their efforts, authors frequently have the pleasure of seeing their paper published in Gear Technology and enshrined in our online archives.
Good papers have a long and productive life on the Internet. Just the other day a paper I presented several years ago was helpful to a new client. It might not be Cooperstown or even the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but the GT archive is a peak achievement for a gear engineer.