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Peer reviewers acting as gatekeepers

Not a climate science story this one, but one from the world of stem cell research. The themes are remarkably similar to those emerging from the Climategate emails though:

Stem cell experts say they believe a small group of scientists is effectively vetoing high quality science from publication in journals.

In some cases they say it might be done to deliberately stifle research that is in competition with their own.



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Reader Comments (7)

I heard an interview on Today on Radio 4 this morning on the subject. Given that yesterday the same interviewer was talking about the UEA FOI business, and the suppression of peer review, I was surprised that no connection was made about this very similar issue.

Feb 2, 2010 at 11:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

Quite so - it seemed a remarkable omission. Perhaps it has been cut? (Ok - it's a lame pun and doesn't really work in text, but I couldn't resist. I'll get my coat...)

Feb 2, 2010 at 12:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Pedant-General

Oh and copy of book is on its way via those nice people at Amazon.
Much looking forward to it your Grace.

Feb 2, 2010 at 12:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Pedant-General

Pallab Ghosh on the BBC asked whether this affected other areas of science definitely side-stepped the answer. He should have said Climategate shows it is even worse in climate science. But he kept quiet. More BBC bias.

Feb 2, 2010 at 2:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

So there is a systemic problem with the peer review process. Not a surprise I'm afraid. Having witnessed the antics a close relative faced trying to get papers published in academic (chemistry/biochemistry) journals it was pretty clear that it was an incestuous closed shop.

@ Phillip - I think I saw the same interview at lunchtime. A rather smug BBC correspondent talking about the issue. Interesting the comments about grant money being at issue. As Dr North would say .... 'Follow the money'.

In the UK the problem which is undermining the peer-review process is the way that the government uses quantity of articles published in journals as a metric for the productivity and eminance of academics. Hence the research league tables. If the peer-review process worked better and was free from undue influence the use of this information as a metric might just work. But given that the peers performing the review are often competing for a slice of the same grant funds there must be a significant temptation to delay or reject paper. Fraud that may be, but the Climategate leaks demonstrate that small cabals of academics are quire capable of influencing what is published.

Feb 2, 2010 at 4:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterEvading the truth

None of this is new. This is the Same-old Same old I saw back in the 1960's while I was a graduate student and one of the reasons I went into mini computers instead. That and a lot more money from DEC.

Feb 2, 2010 at 5:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

I heard some of the radio report which ended by saying the process might be improved if the referee reports were available along with the published paper. Certainly an improvement for published work. However this would not address the issue of manuscripts that get rejected.

Feb 2, 2010 at 8:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterQ

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