Parliamentary Inquiry into Peer Review

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Paul Jump has written a piece about the parliamentary inquiry into peer review in the U.K. This is an excerpt:

The rise of online journals that publish all scientifically sound articles submitted could stem the "dramatic" rise in the amount of time authors are obliged to spend defending their papers from criticism by referees, a parliamentary inquiry has heard.

Ronald Laskey, vice-president of the Academy of Medical Sciences and professor emeritus of animal embryology at the University of Cambridge, told the first hearing of the Commons Science and Technology Committee's inquiry into peer review that the "engine of peer review has not seized but is misfiring".

This was because many of the extra experiments being demanded by referees did not relate to the key themes of papers or add substantially to their value.

He said the use of publications for "proxy" purposes, such as promotion decisions, meant that scientists were under severe pressure to publish in journals with high impact factors. The high rejection rate of such journals resulted in "excessive effort going into trying to satisfy editors and referees, rather than pursuing the highest priority science".

Professor Laskey also expressed concern that at least some of the requests for extra experiments were motivated by unscrupulous reviewers attempting to slow down a rival's research. "I don't think it is the norm but most scientists know of cases where that appears to have happened," he said.

P.S.: Richard Poynder has written a piece about the parliamentary inquiry.

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