Friday, June 09, 2006

Nature Peer Review Trial and Debate

Nature is trialling an open peer review system (hat tip John Fleck for the pointer). There is an outline of the scheme on that page, and a series of essays about the peer review system. It's planned to run alongside their conventional anonymous peer review for 3 months, on a purely voluntary basis (ie authors can volunteer for their manuscripts to be posted and commented on publically while undergoing the standard review).

There doesn't seem to be a lot happening there yet, but there are RSS feeds for papers and comments. I'll keep an eye out for anything climate-related. The associated essays are also worth a read.

Jules is currently helping to edit a special issue of the open review EGU journal "Climate of the Past", but it's too early to see how that is going (there are no papers actually typeset and posted yet, although several have been submitted). It will be interesting to see how these ideas work out. In both cases, there is a conventional peer review (with anonymity if the reviewer chooses) with the manuscript simultaneously available for public comment.

There are a handful of papers already posted in the Nature system which seem to already be published, including this one relating climate change to a decline in some bird populations. Perhaps they were just meant to kick-start or test the system. I didn't notice any publicity about that particular paper when it was published last month - FWIW, it seems more solid than that frog thing that got so much atttention. But of course a population decline isn't as exciting as a mass extinction. Incidentally, some supposedly extinct frogs were rediscovered recently. I don't know if these are the same ones that were exterminated by global warming or not - they certainly sound related though. They are still under severe threat of course.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Peer Review Failure at JAMA

The Center for Regulatory Effectiveness has revised the Wikipedia entry on peer review to discuss and document peer review failure at JAMA. The revised entry exposes a politically biased Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) article [JAMA, May 24, 2006; 295(20): 2407 - 2410] on the Data Quality Act and atrazine that contains numerous factual errors and misrepresentations. A crucial, obvious error in the article was the assertion that atrazine is being phased out by the European Union because “Atrazine...has been repeatedly demonstrated to be a potent endocrine disruptor....” JAMA’s peer review process accepted this claim even though the Official Journal of the European Union explicitly stated “In the 70s, a political decision was taken to reduce to ‘zero’ the presence of pesticides, independent of their toxicity.” [Emphasis added]

The CRE Wikipedia revisions also include a discussion of the peer requirements imposed on federal regulatory agencies by the Office of Management and Budget. Federal agencies cannot use or rely on scientific information that does not meet the OMB peer review requirements. Many peer reviewed journals do not meet the OMB peer review requirements.

For more information about the failed peer review at JAMA, please contact William G. Kelly, Jr.. For more information about the US government’s peer review requirements, please contact Scott Slaughter.