Monday, January 18, 2016

The unseen biases by the peer review process

In the article “Why you can’t always believe what you reading scientific journals” the author discussed one of the major issues in life science research, the peer review process. The article focuses on the benefits and disadvantages of a new tool called the “PubPeer.” The reporter was able to ask and discuss many questions with the PubPeer founders. There were many issues that were particularly interesting to the general scope of the problems with bias in sciences.

The founders began by stating this this website has served to be very useful since it allows for a centralized commentary for published work. Interestingly just recently, this tool was able to uncover a controversial stem cell fiasco. With the help of an anonymous commentator the public was able to uncover the published fraud. I thought this was exceptional since I always wondered what the process was to uncover misconduct in already publish work. What I believe is even more interesting, is the fact that this work was accepted and published –showing the flaws in the peer review process.

Another point brought up in this article was the fact that most misconduct occurs in life sciences. However, now this makes sense since it would be very easy to show that for example a mathematics equation was faulty by making a visible mistake. On the other hand, in biology there are many areas were misconduct can present itself. One of the ones that matches the classrooms interests is the idea of science bias. This might be even more difficult to pick up since there might be many different types of biases like in the experimental design, the data collection, the analysis and even the interpretation. Which are difficult to identify once the data has been published and the authors was not detailed enough in their documentation.

Overall, this was a very interesting read and pointed out new tools that could one day replace the faulty peer review process currently begin used today, to avoid biases in science.

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree that news tools will be very helpful in finding flawed publication. In recent decades, we've seen many retractions and misconduct in different areas of research. Also of note, inevitable portion of biomedical research papers couldn't be reproduced and a lot more is out there to be found. I'm glad you brought this up even I'm not sure if the tools have been widely used by reviewers or not. It could be one way to alert scientists of not publishing misconducted results to others.

    But still, the publication pressure nowadays pushes a few scientists out of mind. Science can't be always right; we need criticism while we are reading other's work. However, this can't justify for those who acknowledge the possible flaws but still publish in order to have a successful career. These tools might not be adequate to weep out the problem.