One of the hallmarks of scientific journal publication is the peer review system. An editor cannot be knowledgeable about every possible area of research the journal he or she edits receives for consideration. So the paper is sent for review by people with expertise in the area the paper discusses, and the editor then uses those comments to suggest changes, to reject the paper or to accept it. As nost of us know, the usual response is a request to revise.
But peer review is also a human enterprise and as a result it is subject to weakness, to abuse, to gamesmanship and to other peculiarities. There have been reports of gaming peer review by people who actually review their own work, or who are friends to others who have submitted. Peer review may also prevent new ideas from receiving consideration since those ideas may stand outside an established framework in a discipline.
In the end, this is actually a question of research integrity. That’s why the new open source journal Research Integrity and Peer Review is so refreshing. It is one of the Biomed Central family of journals, and it can be found at http://researchintegrityjournal.biomedcentral.com/. Its aim and scope states “Research Integrity and Peer Review is an international, open access, peer reviewed journal that encompasses all aspects of integrity in research publication, including peer review, study reporting, and research and publication ethics. Particular consideration is given to submissions that address current controversies and limitations in the field and offer potential solutions.”It’s time that we look carefully at the processes used in the dissemination of scientific information. This is a highly volatile world that is suffering challenges it has never before had to cope with, from predatory journals to exponential growth of information, to new publishing models and the need for release of data from studies and the need for trial registries. Scientific information is evidence, used to make clinical decisions. Let’s make sure that that information is a rigorous as it can be. This journal will help do just that.