HealthCommentary

Exploring Human Potential

A New Take on Peer Review?

Posted on | September 19, 2006 | No Comments

Over the past few decades, I’ve spoken to more than a few medical editors and helped fund several International Congresses on Peer Review, which have always drawn the same conclusion. Peer review doesn’t work. So why haven’t medical and science leaders changed it? Simply because they haven’t known where else to go.

Now, however, the journal Nature has taken a giant step into unknown territory.
That’s right, Nature, the venerable 136-year-old journal, has broken ranks. The journal will now post articles on the Internet, prior to publication, and allow scientists within the discipline to weigh in. This process will run parallel to traditional peer review.

Why is Nature taking this step? The final blow may have been dealing with public controversy around last month’s stem cell article.

You remember that one – one cell removed from an eight-cell embryo. Did or didn’t the embryos survive? Well, peer review didn’t bring out some of the questions about the research and the experiment that later surfaced, and Nature ended up issuing a clarifying press release.

I think Nature‘s new approach to research is a great idea. Let’s see if JAMA and NEJM (of “embargo” fame) follow suit.

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