6 Apr 2007

Journalology roundup #2

The Importance of Negative Results. There is a difference between negative findings that result from poor research design and negative findings from good research. In poor research, failure to find effects can stem from an insufficient number of observations, leading to lack of adequate statistical power.

Ethics approval requirement for CJEM research publications: a step forward for Canadian emergency medicine. A good precis of the reasons why journals require ethics approval for research.

What makes an expert? A very interesting report by Brian Deer in the BMJ on the controversy surrounding the research and publications of Mark Geier, a US autism and vaccines researcher, including a recent retraction prompted by the Neurodiversity blog.

Epidemiology and Reporting Characteristics of Systematic Reviews. These results substantiate the view that readers should not accept systematic reviews uncritically.
Many Reviews Are Systematic but Some Are More Transparent and Completely Reported than Others. An editorial in PLoS Medicine.

Statistical Reviewers Improve Reporting in Biomedical Articles: A Randomized Trial. This prospective randomized study shows the positive effect of adding a statistical reviewer to the field-expert peers in improving manuscript quality. We did not find a statistically significant positive effect by suggesting reviewers use reporting guidelines. This study used a Manuscript Quality Assessment Instrument developed by Goodman and colleagues. If this can objectively measure manuscript quality, shouldn't editors and peer reviewers routinely use this during peer review, rather than after it?

Life and times of the impact factor: retrospective analysis of trends for seven medical journals (1994-2005) and their Editors' views. The vulnerability of the IF to editorial manipulation and Editors' dissatisfaction with it as the sole measure of journal quality lend weight to the need for complementary measures.

Peer review and the Term Breech Trial. One of the original peer reviewers of a trial published in the Lancet in 2000 speaks out about the peer review of the study: "We have watched the subsequent scientific debate with concern. We are worried about the sanctity in which peer review is held and used to defend this research; investigators and editors usually do their best and in this case we were supportive of their findings. Peer review is, however, subject to all the pitfalls of any judgment process. In retrospect, fast track in particular might only be appropriate with unanimous support from review. Further consideration of the points might have reduced the subsequent controversy. Medical journals are becoming more transparent because this is thought to protect scientific integrity. Is it time to make peer review more transparent?". Sounds like a vote in favour of open peer review.

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