Wednesday, November 29, 2006

NYT on Scientific Journal Peer Review Reform

Interesting article in the New York Times -- Journal Faulted in Publishing Korean’s Claims, by Nicholas Wade.  The article discusses the changes in peer review generated by the exposure of fraudulent claims about creation of stem cells by a Korean scientist.  Changes in peer review would of course be significant for scientific studies relevant to mass tort litigation -- particularly the online publication of raw data.  Here's an excerpt:

[T]he spectacular nature of the fraud prompted deeper than usual soul-searching on the part of leading journals.

After reviewing the paper record of how the Hwang reports were handled, a panel led by John I. Brauman, a chemist at Stanford University, yesterday recommended four changes in Science’s procedures.

A risk-assessment method should be developed to flag high-visibility papers for further review, the panel said. Also, authors should specify their individual contributions to a paper, a reform aimed at Dr. Hwang’s stratagem of allowing another researcher, Gerald Schatten of the University of Pittsburgh, to be lead author of one of the reports even though Dr. Schatten had done none of the experiments.

The panel advised online publication of more of the raw data on which a scientific report is based. It also suggested that Science, Nature and other leading journals establish common standards for reviewing papers to prevent authors bent on deceit from favoring journals with laxer standards.


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