[Coral-List] Is the peer-review and post-publication review process broken? Some options!

John Johnson jjohnson197830 at yahoo.com
Thu Jun 26 23:09:53 EDT 2014


I would like to bring to discussion the publication (peer-review) and subsequent post-review process. There is little doubt that the peer-review process is far from perfect and that papers do get published that are fundamentally flawed. What is becoming a greater concern is the resistance of journals to post-peer review, and even inherent biases at the editorial level that decline papers that go against the grain of their field. This is why I like journals such as PLOS ONE (www.plosone.org) that allow for healthy critical review and dialog to be attached to the paper. Journals should switch to this option, and perhaps this will be the case in the future with greater openness on the internet. With that said there are two wonderful sites created by scientists that were frustrated with the journal peer-review process and subsequent resistance of journals to post-pub review.. They are as follows:

Pubpeer (https://pubpeer.com/) - provides scientists with an ability to submit objective review/comments on a published paper, after which the authors of the paper will be contacted along with up to 100 scientists within the field and whomever reads it to make comments. The overall effectiveness of this is that it removed potential editorial/journal biases and opens the paper to critical review that may have been missed in the peer-review process. Overall this is an effective solution because the comments are permanently linked to the paper when found on the web, and therefore pressure to address problems with the paper and/or journal/editor will always be there.

Retractionwatch (http://retractionwatch.com/) - coined 'Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process', addresses retractions of papers, fraud, and issues such as journals' lack of openness and resistance to post-publication review.  It's a wonderful read but it also shows the obvious flaws in the review process and resistance of journals to healthy scientific review of their published works. Check it out.

From the above, the ability for people to comment on published papers must be carefully monitored. Personal attacks or those that do not address the major findings of the study should be flagged and possibly removed. This is actually done well on pubpeer, retraction watch and PLOS ONE. 


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