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Richard Smith: More on the uselessness of peer review

17 Nov, 11 | by BMJ Group

Richard SmithI know I’m becoming a bore with all this raving against prepublication peer review, but like all true bores I’m charging on regardless. And I’m fired up by the experience I’ve had in the past few minutes.

Unsurprisingly, I’m a hypocrite as well as a bore, and despite my protestations I do a fair bit of reviewing. I’m never quite sure why, but it’s something to do with the hope of getting an early peek at something stupendous. This has yet to happen. more…

Richard Smith: A woeful tale of the uselessness of peer review

11 Nov, 11 | by BMJ Group

Richard SmithLet me tell you a sad tale of wasted time and effort that illustrates clearly for me why it’s time to abandon prepublication peer review. It’s the tale of an important paper that argues that we can screen for risk of cardiovascular disease using simply age. (1) I’ve already posted a blog on the implications of the paper, but now I want to tell you about its tortured journey to publication.

A version of the paper was first submitted to a journal, the BMJ, in March 2009. It was finally published in PloS One in May 2011, more than two years after it was first submitted. During that time the paper has been rejected seven times by four journals, including PloS One at first, and reviewed by 24 reviewers. At a conservative estimate of two hours per review this is more than a week of academic time. If the academics are paid at a rate of £50 an hour, again conservative, the cost is over £2000. That figure does not include the editorial costs or the opportunity costs, the academics might have spent their time doing something much more valuable than reviewing a paper that 23 other reviewers had also reviewed. more…

Liz Wager: Are journal editors like used car salesmen?

12 May, 11 | by BMJ Group

Liz WagerYesterday, I gave evidence to a UK parliamentary inquiry into peer review (as did Fiona Godlee). (The session can be viewed here)

Before the session I tried to think of an analogy for peer review that I could use to explain its usefulness, but also its variety and imperfections, to the MPs. Inspiration often comes from unlikely sources – in this case an episode of the 1980s TV sitcom “Minder” which is based around the dodgy dealings of secondhand car salesman Arthur Daley (about as unlikely a role model for a journal editor as you can find, but I hope Fiona and her fellow editors will forgive the comparison). more…

Elizabeth Loder: Who gets to be an author?

14 Mar, 11 | by BMJ

Elizabeth Loder
Elizabeth Loder reports on a panel discussion held at the International Publication Planning Association meeting in St  Louis, Missouri. more…

Andrew Burd: Naughty editor, bad editor

28 Feb, 11 | by BMJ

Andrew BurdI have been the human guardian of both cats and dogs over the years. I cannot call myself either a cat person or a dog person. They have such different personalities. Cats are free spirits but are also wonderfully self-indulgent and will be happily stroked for hours. Dogs are more keen on activity and many an hour has been spent wrestling for ownership of old socks or slippers. more…

Richard Smith: Twitter to replace peer review?

26 Jan, 11 | by BMJ Group

Richard SmithAn interesting article in Nature gives what may be a glimpse of the future of scientific discourse by telling stories of how social media have done a much better and faster job than traditional prepublication review. Science recently published a paper in which researchers claimed to be able to predict human longevity with 77% accuracy. The paper gathered huge coverage in the media, but almost immediately bloggers and Tweeters recognised major errors. Researchers who regularly used the techniques of the study saw a common pitfall, which was why they reacted so fast. One week after the paper was published the authors acknowledged that they had made a technical error, and shortly afterwards Science issued an “expression of concern,” meaning ignore this paper. more…

Liz Wager on stem cell scientists’ criticisms of peer review

2 Feb, 10 | by BMJ Group

Liz WagerStem cell researchers from some major international institutions have written an open letter to journal editors complaining that they have received unreasonable and obstructive reviews (Euro Stem Cell)

more…

Siddhartha Yadav on optimism in South Asia for health research

11 Jun, 09 | by BMJ Group

Last week was a research-filled week for me. Two biomedical papers to review in the early part of the week and the South Asian Forum for Health Research (SAFHeR) meeting towards the end. Could not ask for more. more…

Liz Wager: If comment is cheap why is peer review so expensive?

16 Apr, 09 | by julietwalker

Liz WagerAs you know (since you are reading this), I blog, albeit sporadically. I do not Tweet (yet) but I’m fascinated by the frenzy of twittering and the explosion of opportunities to launch one’s opinions into cyberspace. 

more…

Terrence Collis on publish and be damned

2 Dec, 08 | by BMJ Group

Terrence Collis Every day one of our national newspapers publishes a piece reporting on “scientific research” and nearly every day the report is misleading, inaccurate, shows poor understanding of science and scientific research methods, and irritates the hell out of many a hardworking researcher. Often the original research is crap too. more…

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