On the behavior of reviewers: Why unconventional ideas are rejected
"Editors, with good reason, send submissions to scholars who are knowledgeable about, and who have previously published on, the particular topic of the paper submitted. However, it is exactly those scholars, though, who have most to lose when a new idea that undermines the approaches and ideas they have championed over many years is promoted. Such reviewers knowingly or unknowingly introduce a marked conservative bias. Well-established ideas tend to be favoured and unconventional ideas rejected particularly because the latter are normally less well formulated and tested than those following the trodden path."From the section "Protecting Intellectual Capital" in "Editorial Ruminations: Publishing Kyklos" by Frey, Eichenberger, and Frey.
What is left unsaid is that this problem is aggravated by the gap between perception and reality when people discuss how many times a scholar is cited. Conventionally, the perception is that a scholar is frequently cited if he or she is doing high-quality . Realistically, a scholar is frequently cited if he or she is doing moderate-quality research on a topic that lots of other researchers are already interested in.
Of course, there's also the problem of political bias, at least in American social psychology.