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How can journals improve peer-review of cloning papers?

The Niche: How can journals improve peer review of cloning papers?

This week we welcome a new Nature blog, The Niche, the blog of the (also new) Nature Reports Stem Cells website. In one of its first posts, Nature editor Natalie De Witt writes:

In the aftermath of the Hwang scandal in 2006, Nature editors thought long and hard about whether journals could employ editorial procedures that might prevent publication of such fraudulent data in the future, at least in the area of cloning and nuclear transfer research. We queried several top scientists in the cloning and stem cell fields on this issue, and published the major conclusions in the editorial entitled “Standards for papers on cloning” Nature 439, 243 (2006).

Several of these scientists have agreed for us to publish abridged versions of their 2006 answers in The Niche. Open the Comments below to read the postings of George Daley, Shin-Ichi Nishikawa, Alan Trounson, Alan Colman, Robert Lanza, Teruhiko Wakayama, Bob Wall, and Mark Westhusin, on whether the Hwang scandal could have been prevented, and what tactics journals should implement in the future to tighten up cloning papers. Feel free to join in the discussion by posting your own comments.

The questions:

1. Is Nature’s current review procedure adequate as it stands for refereeing of cloning papers?

2. If not, what improvements are needed?

3. Would the peer review process of cloning papers be improved were Nature to establish a checklist of minimal standard criteria for authors and referees to refer to during the peer review process?

4. If yes, what sort of experimental data should be considered and to what extent do the raw data need to be presented to reviewers, and to what extent should it be published?

5. In 2006, Nature asked for independent verification of the Hwang paper showing that Snuppy is a cloned dog. Do you feel this kind of independent verification should be requested for all cloning papers? If yes, what should it entail?

You can read all the responses here, and add your own comments.

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