Archive by date | June 2008

Stifling innnovation or filtering for excellence?

An article in the Financial Times, Science stifled? Why peer review is under pressure (11 June 2008), reports various recent criticisms of the peer-review system, including a letter to the newspaper by 25 distinguished scientists calling for a “global fund to support inspired scientists, free of peer review”; news of a Royal Society pilot scheme for a “blue skies” research fund, to avoid the “constraints of conventional peer review by using a generalist panel to consider proposals from any field, on the basis of their novelty and potential to open up new areas of science and technology”; and in the announcement of this year’s Grand Challenges programme of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Tachi Yamada, the foundation’s head of global health, is cited as saying “We’ve got to get around peer review – it’s anathema to innovation. Innovation has no peers, by definition.”  … Read more

Nature Precedings and open review, one year on

Today, 18 June, is the first anniversary of Nature Precedings, where researchers can post their unpublished manuscripts, presentations, posters, white papers, technical papers, supplementary findings and other scientific documents, which can all be “peer-reviewed” online by anyone in the scientific community. (The website was available before June 2007 in ‘beta’ form.) Santosh Patnaik, a user who periodically tracks Nature Precedings at the Nature Network Nature Precedings forum, estimates that the 500th document will be uploaded some time in the next two weeks.  Read more

NIH responds to critics

A News story in the 12 June issue of Nature (453, 823; 2008) by Meredith Wadman: Responding to hundreds of critical comments, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has reversed several controversial proposals made in February as part of a year-long effort to overhaul the agency’s peer-review system (see Nature 451, 1035; 2008). As part of an initiative called Enhancing Peer Review, announced in a finalized form on 6 June, the agency will spend at least $200 million annually over the next five years to foster groundbreaking, investigator-initiated research. Of that, at least $250 million will go to a  … Read more

No demonstrated gender bias in double-blind peer review

The Editorial ‘Working double-blind’ (Nature 451, 605–606; 2008), also republished on this blog and stimulating more than 70 comments, referred to a study (1) that found more female first-author papers were published using a double-blind, rather than a single-blind, peer-review system. The data reported in ref. 1 have now been re-examined (2). The conclusion of ref. 1, that Behavioral Ecology published more papers with female first authors after switching to a double-blind peer-review system, is not in dispute. However, ref. 2 reports that other similar ecology journals that have single-blind peer-review systems also increased in female first-author papers over the same time period.  Read more

Stem Cell paper and Insights are open for scrutiny

In the latest Nature Reports Stem Cells Inside the Paper feature, senior Nature editor Natalie DeWitt discusses the paper by H. H. Chang et al. ‘Transcriptome-wide noise controls lineage choice in mammalian progenitor cells’, published in Nature 453, 544-547 (2008).  Read more