The journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) publishes papers in all the sciences, including archaeology. I have long wondered whether the peer review process of PNAS us up to snuff. It seems that a good number of papers published in the journal fail to cite relevant sources on prior research. PNAS members can publish in the journal, and I'm not sure if their papers are peer reviewed or not. Non-PNAS members evidently can have their papers reviewed by a single PNAS member, who may be a good friend. Hardly a rigorous review process, but then perhaps that is not the goal.
I just read John Hawks's blog entry on this (from January, 2011), "Membership has its privileges." He takes a paper by Erik Trinkaus on Neanderthals in the PNAS to task for ignoring prior research very similar to Trinkaus's. Interestingly, Hawks publishes his own email correspondence with Trinkaus about the issue. It is worth reading.
A similar case occurred more recently, when a paper in PNAS on agricultural intensification failed to cite the literature on the topic. Sam Bowles shows that agriculture is calorically less efficient that hunting, something I learned as an undergrad more than thirty years ago. I complained to some people in the NAS about this, and had a short email exchange with Bowles. There is quite a large literature on this in anthropology, archaeology, and geography, much of it in the 1970s and 1980s (Boserup and her implications, pretty basic stuff in archaeology), but Bowles presented his findings as if he were the first to figure out the energetic costs of intensification:
2011 Cultivation of cereals by the first farmers was not more productive than foraging. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108:4760-4765.
I was tempted to fire off a letter to the journal, but desisted for two reasons. First, intensification is not my own specialty, and I thought there might be complexities and literature I am not aware of. Second, my previous letter to the editor was not very satisfying. In that case, I criticized a PNAS paper by economic historians for sloppy terminology and concepts:
Basu, Sudipta, John Dickhaut, Kristy Towry, and Gregory Waymire
2009 Recordkeeping Alters Economic History by Promoting Reciprocity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106:1009-1014.
The authors claimed that the results of a modern economic game explained past developments in economic history. I pointed out that several intermediate inferential steps had been left out; one cannot read ancient history from the results of a modern game. This is my letter:
2009 Modern Behavioral Experiments are not Economic History (response to S. Basu, J. Dickhaut, K. Towry, & G. Waymire, “Recordkeeping Alters Economic History by Promoting Reciprocity,” PNAS 106: 1009-1014). Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences 106 (16), p. E39.
Like John Hawks, I am dismayed that prominent scholars are permitted to publish papers in a prestigious journal like PNAS without citing the relevant literature. If I tried to do that in a basic archaeology journal, I'd almost certainly be shot down by the reviewers.