To publish or not to publish? That is the question

May 21, 2010

For more than 50 years medical research has been vetted through the peer-review process overseen by medical journal editors who assign reviewers to determine whether work merits publication. A study published in PLoS One investigates reviewers' recommendations and their influence on journal editors who are the ultimate arbiters of whether the research is published or not.

"Published research is becoming a more and more significant factor in scientific dialogue. Physicians and other researchers are no longer the only readers of medical studies. Patients and their families and friends now regularly access medical literature. This makes the review process even more important," said study senior author William Tierney, M.D., a Regenstrief Institute investigator, Chancellor's Professor and professor of medicine at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

"Peer review provides an important filtering function with the goal of insuring that only the highest quality research is published. Yet the results of our analysis suggest that reviewers agree on the disposition of manuscripts - accept or reject - at a rate barely exceeding what would be expected by chance. Nevertheless, editors' decisions appear to be significantly influenced by reviewer recommendations," said Dr. Tierney, who is the Joseph J. Mamlin Professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

A total of 2,264 manuscripts submitted to the Journal of General Internal Medicine (JGIM) were sent by the for external review to two or three reviewers each during the study period. These manuscripts received a total of 5,881 reviews provided by 2,916 reviewers. Twenty-eight percent of all reviews recommended rejection. However, the journal's overall rejection rate was much higher -- 48 percent overall and 88 percent when all reviewers for a manuscript agreed on rejection (which occurred with only 7 percent of manuscripts). The rejection rate was 20 percent even when all reviewers agreed that the manuscript should be accepted (which occurred with 48 percent of ).

"We need to better understand and improve the reliability of the process while helping editors, who make the ultimate publish or not publish decision, recognize the limitations of reviewers' recommendations," said Dr. Tierney, who served as JGIM co-editor-in-chief from 2004-2009.

Explore further: Amgen misses 1Q views as higher costs cut profit

More information: The PLoS One study "Editorial Peer Reviewers' Recommendations at a General Medical Journal: Are They Reliable and Do Editors Care?" can be found at www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0010072

Provided by Indiana University School of Medicine

3.5 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Peer Review Survey 2009: Preliminary findings

Sep 08, 2009

Should peer review detect fraud and misconduct? What does it do for science and what does the scientific community want it to do? Will it illuminate good ideas or shut them down? Should reviewers remain anonymous?

Recommended for you

Novartis reports Q1 profit up on divestitures

7 minutes ago

Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis AG has reported a 24 percent increase in profit for the first quarter, helped by selling off less-profitable parts of its business.

Amgen misses 1Q views as higher costs cut profit

Apr 22, 2014

Despite higher sales, biotech drugmaker Amgen's first-quarter profit fell 25 percent as production and research costs rose sharply, while the year-ago quarter enjoyed a tax benefit. The company badly missed ...

Valeant, Ackman make $45.6B Allergan bid

Apr 22, 2014

Valeant Pharmaceuticals and activist investor Bill Ackman have unveiled details of their offer to buy Botox maker Allergan, proposing a cash-and-stock deal that could be worth about $45.6 billion.

User comments : 0

More news stories

FDA proposes first regulations for e-cigarettes

The federal government wants to prohibit sales of electronic cigarettes to minors and require approval for new products and health warning labels under regulations being proposed by the Food and Drug Administration.

Vermont moves toward labeling of GMO foods

Vermont lawmakers have passed the country's first state bill to require the labeling of genetically modified foods as such, setting up a war between the behemoth U.S. food industry and an American public that overwhelmingly ...

Brazil enacts Internet 'Bill of Rights'

Brazil's president signed into law on Wednesday a "Bill of Rights" for the digital age that aims to protect online privacy and promote the Internet as a public utility by barring telecommunications companies ...