Academic journals are increasingly asking authors to use transparent reporting practices to “trust, but verify” that outcomes are not being reported in a biased way and to enable other researchers to reproduce the results. To implement these reporting practices, most journals rely on the process of peer review — in which other scholars review research findings before publication — but relatively few journals measure the quality and effectiveness of the process.
In a commentary published July 20 in the journal Science, lead author Carole Lee and co-author David Moher identify incentives that could encourage journals to “open the black box of peer review” for the sake of improving transparency, reproducibility, and trust in published research. Lee is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Washington; Moher is a senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital and associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Ottawa.
Lee and Moher see this as a collective action problem requiring leadership and investment by publishers.
“Science would be better off if journals allowed for and participated in the empirical study and quality assurance of their peer review processes,” they write. “However, doing so is resource-intensive and comes at considerable risk for individual journals in the form of unfavorable evidence and bad press.”
To help journals manage the reputational risk associated with auditing their own peer review processes, Lee and Moher suggest revising the Transparency and Openness (TOP) Guidelines, a set of voluntary reporting standards to which 2,900 journals and organizations are now signatories. These guidelines were published in Science in 2015 by a committee of researchers and representatives from nonprofit scientific organizations, grant agencies, philanthropic organizations and elite journals.
Lee and Moher suggest adding a new category to the TOP guidelines “indicating a journal’s willingness to facilitate meta-research on the effectiveness of its own peer review practices.” With these, journals can choose which tier or level they take on. Higher levels of transparency would involve higher risk.
- For the lowest tier, journals would publicly disclose whether they are conducting internal evaluations of peer review, in which they are able to retain the study results for internal use.
- At the middle tier, journals would disclose the results of their internal evaluations of peer review, but could maintain flexibility in how they report their results for external use. For example, results could be aggregated across several journals to reduce risk to any single journal.
- At the upper tier, journals could agree to relinquish data and analyses to researchers outside their institution for third-party verification. This is an option, Lee and Moher write, “that might appeal especially to publishers with fewer resources, as it places the financial burden on those conducting the meta-research.” Journals conducting their own analyses could preregister their study designs then deposit their data publicly online.
By agreeing to these more stringent guidelines, the authors write, publishers and journals would have the chance to legitimize and advertise the relative quality of their peer review process in an age when predatory journals, which falsely claim to use peer review, continue to proliferate.
“Illegitimate journals are becoming a big problem for science,” said Moher. “True scientific journals can distinguish themselves with transparence about their peer review processes.”
Investing in research on journal peer review will be costly, they agree. Lee and Moher suggest that large experimental studies are needed to judge the effectiveness of different web-based peer review templates to enforce reporting standards, and of ways one might train authors, reviewers and editors to use such tools and evaluate research.
Also needed, they say, are ways to detect shortcomings in statistical and methodological reporting on a research paper, and to understand how the number and relative expertise of peer reviewers can improve assessment.
The largest publishers, whose profit margins compete with those of pharmaceutical and tech giants, can afford to invest in the requisite technology and resources needed to carry out these audits, the researchers say.
“Publishers should invest in their own brands and reputations by investing in the quality of their peer review processes,” said Lee. “Ultimately, this would improve the quality of the published scientific literature.”
The Latest on: Journal peer review
- Legal roundup: Birmingham attorneys, firms recognized as Super Lawyers, Best Law Firmson November 15, 2019 at 11:06 am
Honorees are selected through a nomination process, a peer-review survey by practice area and independent research on candidates ... and two were named to top 50 Alabama super lawyers. © 2019 American ...
- Get recognition for your efforton November 14, 2019 at 3:05 pm
and are especially grateful to the 120,000 reviewers who contributed to the Nature-branded journals in 2018. As an appreciation for the time and expertise you offer to the peer review process, Nature ...
- The Truth About Medical PRon November 14, 2019 at 12:19 pm
The latest issue of the Journal of Scientific Practice and Integrity includes a detailed ... Nevertheless, in April 2000, the drugmaker launched a ghostwriting service for prominent academics called ...
- How we evaluate your manuscriptson November 14, 2019 at 4:04 am
Over the past 12 months, we have sent out for review 19% of the manuscripts we received. For work we do not take forward to peer review, we will frequently make suggestions for other journals within ...
- Editage Partners With ReviewerCredits to Offer Peer Review Training and Author Serviceson November 13, 2019 at 6:49 pm
Individuals can file peer review claims for over 23,000 journals worldwide through ReviewerCredits. Each claim is verified prior to being added to the database, creating a highly reliable, globally ...
- Journal of General Practice Announcing Hefty Discounts on Article Processingon November 13, 2019 at 12:44 am
A 21 day window time frame is allotted for peer-review process wherein multiple experts are contacted. Author proof is generated within 7 working days after the acceptance decision. • The HTML and PDF ...
- Interventions to Enhance Empathy and Person-Centered Care for Individuals With Dementia: A Systematic Reviewon November 11, 2019 at 1:10 pm
The systematic review was conducted using a university online library ... The authors collaborated with a library scientist to conduct the search and refine the search strategy. The search was ...
- Conflict of interest disclosures don't alter the recommendations of peer reviewerson November 10, 2019 at 1:29 pm
A new study suggests that such conflicts of interest disclosures have no impact on journal reviewers ... She said the findings likely are related to the ambiguity of the review process as it relates ...
- Study: Conflict of interest disclosures don't alter the recommendations of peer reviewerson November 7, 2019 at 11:42 pm
The study's fourth author, Andrew Marder, worked on the experiment as a senior statistician at Harvard Business School. The paper, "The Impact of Revealing Authors' Conflicts of Interests in Peer ...
- Peer-Reviewed Article in "Wounds" Examines Efficacy of Kerecis Fish Skin Treatment for Diabetic Foot Woundson November 6, 2019 at 8:59 am
The efficacy of the Kerecis fish skin treatment for diabetic lower-extremity wounds is discussed in a new peer-reviewed article in the journal "Wounds." The paper, "Acellular Fish Skin Graft Use for ...
via Google News and Bing News