Archive by category | Quality and value

Myles Allen on planetary boundaries and peer review

As a vocal supporter of the traditional system of scientists communicating through peer-reviewed channels ( Nat. Geosci. 1, 209; 2008 and associated debate at Peer-to-Peer), I was hesitant about writing a critical Commentary on the Feature ‘A safe operating space for humanity’ by Johan Rockström et al in the 24 September issue of Nature (Nature 461, 472-475; 2009) in a non-peer-reviewed forum. The Nature and Nature Reports Climate Change editors had clearly thought through this argument: the Feature was not itself peer-reviewed, so no golden rules would be broken in publishing a series of commentaries alongside it in Nature Reports Climate Change.  Read more

NSMB speaks up for peer-reviewers

Manuscript peer reviewing is at the heart of the scientific system, but it seems that these duties are often not properly (if at all) recognized by universities, funding agencies or even the rest of the scientific community. This is the main message of the September Editorial in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, ‘The Unsung Reviewer’ (16, 899; 2009) The Editorial notes:  … Read more

Nature Neuroscience experience with peer-review consortium

In 2008, the journal Nature Neuroscience joined a newly created community consortium aimed at making peer review more efficient by allowing reviews to be transferred between consortium journals. In its current (April) issue, the editors look back at their experience with the Neuroscience Peer Review Consortium over the past year (Nature Neuroscience 12, 363; 2009).  Read more

The time it takes to review a paper

Brian Derby writes a post with the title Refereeing Chores at his Nature Network blog. Brian has refereed hundreds of papers in his scientific career, so he’s as experienced as it gets at the process. Even so, he writes about how it took half a day to reach his decision – to recommend rejection of the submitted paper – and had yet to write his report in suitably critical yet constructive tones for the author and journal.  Read more

How to deal with technical criticisms of published work

“Scientific publishing depends on expert peer reviewers. Instead of perpetually arguing about the reliability and fairness of peer review, authors, editors and referees should seek to optimize this time-tested system.” So opens the January editorial of Nature Neuroscience (12, 1; 2009).  Read more

Image database for cell biology

The Journal of Cell Biology has launched an application that is intended to transform the way researchers can store, share and access the growing number of microscopy images. (See E. Hill, J. Cell Biol. 183, 969–970; 2008). The service is described in a Nature online news story on 19 December 2008.  Read more

Positive skew of clinical-trial publication

A news story in Nature Medicine (14, 1133; 2008) discusses an investigation into the publication status of the clinical-trials literature (PLoS Med., doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0050191; 2008), which concludes that positive results of clinical trials for drugs or devices have a higher chance of getting published than negative trials. The study further concludes that when the trial sponsors publish the results from ‘pivotal’ trials only 76% of the time.  Read more

No demonstrated gender bias in double-blind peer review

The Editorial ‘Working double-blind’ (Nature 451, 605–606; 2008), also republished on this blog and stimulating more than 70 comments, referred to a study (1) that found more female first-author papers were published using a double-blind, rather than a single-blind, peer-review system. The data reported in ref. 1 have now been re-examined (2). The conclusion of ref. 1, that Behavioral Ecology published more papers with female first authors after switching to a double-blind peer-review system, is not in dispute. However, ref. 2 reports that other similar ecology journals that have single-blind peer-review systems also increased in female first-author papers over the same time period.  Read more