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Methods & Processes
Peer Review and Scientific Journals: A Debate
By: Rachel Grabenhofer
Posted: November 3, 2010
page 2 of 3
Respondant C: As a frequent reviewer of scientific articles submitted both to trade journals and Medline listed publications, I feel the review process to be of great value. I agree to the points made above. It is the role of the editor to ensure that papers are not sent to 'competing' parties that can prevent or retard publication because of competing interests but at the same time, as a scientist you have to be open and honest enough to allow others to publish their findings.
We have had that ethical discussion before in the "Is cosmetic science really bad?" series before already. Scientists of all sorts of science and species often also have big egos. Occasionally the review process goes wrong. ...That is why in a proper review, at least two reviewers are involved. When an editor gets two conflicting responses, the paper should be sent to a third reviewer. This should prevent such mistakes (or personal preferences of a reviewer) to a large extent. One aspect, however, never stressed in the review process is the question of whether the submitted article fits the (scope of the) journal to which it is submitted. And likewise, reviewers should adapt their level of reviewing to the publiction concerned.
One's award-winning article may still be rejected by Science or Nature. Controversial papers [sometimes have an issue of getting past the reviewers because they go] against the current opinion. ... Reviewer's score lists should be reviewed on a regular basis to stay in line with the way of writing, the scope of the publication, or simply to keep reviewers on track and alert. Questions that were relevant yesterday may no longer be relevant today, and new questions may pop up.
Respondant D: I agree on most [of the above] points. The sole aspect I would not like to see is "who reviews who." It may well be that reviewers are not in the hundreds and people will start to see connections and/or advantages where there are none. ...I will nonetheless add that C&T magazine should proceed with this procedure to not lose credibility [amongst the] other publications or outside of the cosmetic domain...[in fact here], it is crucial since scientists outside of cosmetics [at least, in my view] unfortunately often believe that this field is not rigorous or not even scientific at all.
Grabenhofer: Many thanks to all for your comments. In the end, I guess the editor must be sure to ask the right reviewers the right questions to determine if the content is valid and relevant.