Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics

, Volume 33, Issue 5, pp 359–376 | Cite as

Peer review versus editorial review and their role in innovative science

  • Georg Steinhauser
  • Wolfram Adlassnig
  • Jesaka Ahau Risch
  • Serena Anderlini
  • Petros Arguriou
  • Aaron Zolen Armendariz
  • William Bains
  • Clark Baker
  • Martin Barnes
  • Jonathan Barnett
  • Michael Baumgartner
  • Thomas Baumgartner
  • Charles A. Bendall
  • Yvonne S. Bender
  • Max Bichler
  • Teresa Biermann
  • Ronaldo Bini
  • Eduardo Blanco
  • John Bleau
  • Anthony Brink
  • Darin Brown
  • Christopher Burghuber
  • Roy Calne
  • Brian Carter
  • Cesar Castaño
  • Peter Celec
  • Maria Eugenia Celis
  • Nicky Clarke
  • David Cockrell
  • David Collins
  • Brian Coogan
  • Jennifer Craig
  • Cal Crilly
  • David Crowe
  • Antonei B. Csoka
  • Chaza Darwich
  • Topiciprin del Kebos
  • Michele DeRinaldi
  • Bongani Dlamini
  • Tomasz Drewa
  • Michael Dwyer
  • Fabienne Eder
  • Raúl Ehrichs de Palma
  • Dean Esmay
  • Catherine Evans Rött
  • Christopher Exley
  • Robin Falkov
  • Celia Ingrid Farber
  • William Fearn
  • Sophie Felsmann
  • Jarl Flensmark
  • Andrew K. Fletcher
  • Michaela Foster
  • Kostas N. Fountoulakis
  • Jim Fouratt
  • Jesus Garcia Blanca
  • Manuel Garrido Sotelo
  • Florian Gittler
  • Georg Gittler
  • Juan Gomez
  • Juan F. Gomez
  • Maria Grazia Gonzales Polar
  • Jossina Gonzalez
  • Christoph Gösselsberger
  • Lynn Habermacher
  • Michael Hajek
  • Faith Hakala
  • Mary-Sue Haliburton
  • John Robert Hankins
  • Jason Hart
  • Sepp Hasslberger
  • Donalyn Hennessey
  • Andrea Herrmann
  • Mike Hersee
  • Connie Howard
  • Suzanne Humphries
  • Laeeth Isharc
  • Petar Ivanovski
  • Stephen Jenuth
  • Jens Jerndal
  • Christine Johnson
  • Yonas Keleta
  • Anna Kenny
  • Billie Kidd
  • Fritz Kohle
  • Jafar Kolahi
  • Marianne Koller-Peroutka
  • Lyubov Kostova
  • Arunachalam Kumar
  • Alejandro Kurosawa
  • Tony Lance
  • Michael Lechermann
  • Bernhard Lendl
  • Michael Leuchters
  • Evan Lewis
  • Edward Lieb
  • Gloria Lloyd
  • Angelika Losek
  • Yao Lu
  • Saadia Maestracci
  • Dennis Mangan
  • Alberto W. Mares
  • Juan Mazar Barnett
  • Valerie McClain
  • John Sydney McNair
  • Terry Michael
  • Lloyd Miller
  • Partizia Monzani
  • Belen Moran
  • Mike Morris
  • Georg Mößmer
  • Johny Mountain
  • Onnie Mary Moyo Phuthe
  • Marcos Muñoz
  • Sheri Nakken
  • Anne Nduta Wambui
  • Bettina Neunteufl
  • Dimitrije Nikolić
  • Devesh V. Oberoi
  • Gregory Obmode
  • Laura Ogar
  • Jo Ohara
  • Naion Olej Rybine
  • Bryan Owen
  • Kim Wilson Owen
  • Rakesh Parikh
  • Nicholas J. G. Pearce
  • Bernhard Pemmer
  • Chris Piper
  • Ian Prince
  • Terence Reid
  • Heiner Rindermann
  • Stefan Risch
  • Josh Robbins
  • Seth Roberts
  • Ajeandro Romero
  • Michael Thaddäus Rothe
  • Sergio Ruiz
  • Juliane Sacher
  • Wolfgang Sackl
  • Markus Salletmaier
  • Jairaj Sanand
  • Clemens Sauerzopf
  • Thomas Schwarzgruber
  • David Scott
  • Laura Seegers
  • David Seppi
  • Kyle Shields
  • Jolanta Siller-Matula
  • Beldeu Singh
  • Sibusio Sithole
  • Florian Six
  • John R. Skoyles
  • Jildou Slofstra
  • Daphne Anne Sole
  • Werner F. Sommer
  • Mels Sonko
  • Chrislie J. Starr-Casanova
  • Marjorie Elizabeth Steakley
  • Wolfgang Steinhauser
  • Konstantin Steinhoff
  • Johannes H. Sterba
  • Martin Steppan
  • Reinhard Stindl
  • Joe Stokely
  • Karri Stokely
  • Gilles St-Pierre
  • James Stratford
  • Christina Streli
  • Carl Stryg
  • Mike Sullivan
  • Johann Summhammer
  • Amhayes Tadesse
  • David Tavares
  • Laura Thompson
  • Alison Tomlinson
  • Jack Tozer
  • Siro I. Trevisanato
  • Michaela Trimmel
  • Nicole Turner
  • Paul Vahur
  • Jennie van der Byl
  • Tine van der Maas
  • Leo Varela
  • Carlos A. Vega
  • Shiloh Vermaak
  • Alex Villasenor
  • Matt Vogel
  • Georg von Wintzigerode
  • Christoph Wagner
  • Manuel Weinberger
  • Peter Weinberger
  • Nick Wilson
  • Jennifer Finocchio Wolfe
  • Michael A. Woodley
  • Ian Young
  • Glenn Zuraw
  • Nicole Zwiren
Article

Abstract

Peer review is a widely accepted instrument for raising the quality of science. Peer review limits the enormous unstructured influx of information and the sheer amount of dubious data, which in its absence would plunge science into chaos. In particular, peer review offers the benefit of eliminating papers that suffer from poor craftsmanship or methodological shortcomings, especially in the experimental sciences. However, we believe that peer review is not always appropriate for the evaluation of controversial hypothetical science. We argue that the process of peer review can be prone to bias towards ideas that affirm the prior convictions of reviewers and against innovation and radical new ideas. Innovative hypotheses are thus highly vulnerable to being “filtered out” or made to accord with conventional wisdom by the peer review process. Consequently, having introduced peer review, the Elsevier journal Medical Hypotheses may be unable to continue its tradition as a radical journal allowing discussion of improbable or unconventional ideas. Hence we conclude by asking the publisher to consider re-introducing the system of editorial review to Medical Hypotheses.

Keywords

Peer review Academic freedom Editorial policy Periodicals as topic Innovation Scientific hypotheses David F. Horrobin 

References

  1. 1.
    Galilei, G. 1632. Dialogo … sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo. Florence: Gio:Batista Landini.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Sobel, D. 2000. Galileo’s daughter: a historical memoir of science, faith, and love. New York: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Charlton, B.G. 2004. Conflicts of interest in medical science: peer usage, peer review and ‘CoI consultancy’. Medical Hypotheses 63: 181–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Rothwell, P.M., and C.N. Martyn. 2000. Reproducibility of peer review in clinical neuroscience. Is agreement between reviewers any greater than would be expected by chance alone? Brain 123: 1964–1969.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Godlee, F., C.R. Gale, and C.N. Martyn. 1998. Effect on the quality of peer review of blinding reviewers and asking them to sign their reports. Journal of the American Medical Association 280: 237–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Callaham, M., and C. McCulloch. 2011. Longitudinal trends in the performance of scientific peer reviewers. Annals of Emergency Medicine 57: 141–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Einstein, A., and N. Rosen. 1937. On gravitational waves. Journal of the Franklin Institute 223: 43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Kennefick, D. 2005. Einstein versus the Physical Review. Physics Today 58: 43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Deming, J.W., and J.A. Baross. 1983. Growth of ‘black smoker’ bacteria at temperatures of at least 250 °C. Nature 303: 423–426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Trent, J.D., R.A. Chastain, and A.A. Yayanos. 1984. Possible artefactual basis for apparent bacterial growth at 250 degrees C. Nature 307: 737–740.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Begley, C.G., and L.M. Ellis. 2012. Drug development: raise standards for preclinical cancer research. Nature 483: 531–533.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Prinz, F., T. Schlange, and K. Asadullah. 2011. Believe it or not: how much can we rely on published data on potential drug targets? Nature Reviews Drug Discovery 10: 712–713.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Couzin-Frankel, J. 2011. Aging genes: the Sirtuin story unravels. Science 334: 1194–1198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Wolfe-Simon, F., J. Switzer Blum, T.R. Kulp, et al. 2011. A bacterium that can grow by using arsenic instead of phosphorus. Science 332: 1163–1166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Alberts, B. 2011. Editor’s note. Science 332: 1149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Benner, S.A. 2011. Comment on “A bacterium that can grow by using arsenic instead of phosphorus”. Science 332: 1149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Borhani, D.W. 2011. Comment on “A bacterium that can grow by using arsenic instead of phosphorus”. Science 332: 1149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Cotner, J.B., and E.K. Hall. 2011. Comment on “A bacterium that can grow by using arsenic instead of phosphorus”. Science 332: 1149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Csabai, I., and E. Szathmary. 2011. Comment on “A bacterium that can grow by using arsenic instead of phosphorus”. Science 332: 1149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Foster, P.L. 2011. Comment on “A bacterium that can grow by using arsenic instead of phosphorus”. Science 332: 1149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Oehler, S. 2011. Comment on “A bacterium that can grow by using arsenic instead of phosphorus”. Science 332: 1149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Redfield, R.J. 2011. Comment on “A bacterium that can grow by using arsenic instead of phosphorus”. Science 332: 1149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Schoepp-Cothenet, B., W. Nitschke, L.M. Barge, A. Ponce, M.J. Russell, and A.I. Tsapin. 2011. Comment on “A bacterium that can grow by using arsenic instead of phosphorus”. Science 332: 1149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Wolfe-Simon, F., J.S. Blum, T.R. Kulp, et al. 2011. Response to comments on “A bacterium that can grow using arsenic instead of phosphorus”. Science 332: 1149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Shatz, D. 2004. Peer review: a critical inquiry. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    The Editors of The New Atlantis. 2006. Rethinking peer review: how the internet is changing science journals. The New Atlantis 13: 106–110.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Horrobin, D.F. 1990. The philosophical basis of peer review and the suppression of innovation. Journal of the American Medical Association 263: 1438–1441.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Charlton, B.G. 2007. Peer usage versus peer review. British Medical Journal 335: 451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Thurner, S., and R. Hanel. 2011. Peer-review in a world with rational scientists: towards selection of the average. European Physical Journal B 84: 707–711.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Fischer, K. 2005. Deformationen von Wissenschaft im universitären System [Deformations of science in the university system]. In Universität und wissenschaftliches Wissen [University and scientific knowledge], ed. E. Eirmbter-Stolbrink, and C. König-Fuchs. Nordhausen: Bautz.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Groeben, N. 2006. Zur Kultur des – empirisch-szientifischen – Zeitschriftenaufsatzes [The culture of an empirical-scientific journal article.]. Handlung-Kultur-Interpretation 15: 25–41.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Kelly, B.D. 2009. Dear Editor—a note from any imaginary author in response to any referee. Medical Hypotheses 72: 359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Darwin, C. 1859. On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life, 1st ed. London: John Murray.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Quammen, D. 2006. The reluctant Mr. Darwin. New York: Atlas Books.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    The Editors of Nature Cell Biology. 2006. Appreciating data: warts, wrinkles and all. Nature Cell Biology 8: 203.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Charlton, B.G. 2010. The cancer of bureaucracy: how it will destroy science, medicine, education; and eventually everything else. Medical Hypotheses 74: 961–965.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Johnson, V. 2008. Statistical analysis of the National Institutes of Health peer review system. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105: 11076–11080.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Gawrylewski, A. 2008. Tackling peer review bias. The Scientist, July 28. http://classic.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/26628/. Accessed August 6, 2012.
  39. 39.
    Bains, W. 2009. Leadership and innovation: how consensus management blocks genuine innovation. Bioscience Hypotheses 2: 277–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Kaplan, D., N. Lacetera, and C. Kaplan. 2008. Sample size and precision in NIH peer review. PLoS ONE 3: e2761.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Horrobin, D.F. 1975. Ideas in biomedical science: reasons for the foundation of Medical Hypotheses. Medical Hypotheses 1: 1–2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Charlton, B.G. 2007. Medical Hypotheses 2006 impact factor rises to 1.3—A vindication of the “editorial review” system for revolutionary science. Medical Hypotheses 69: 967–969.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Fröhlich, G. 2002. Anonyme Kritik. Peer Review auf dem Prüfstand der empirisch-theoretischen Wissenschaftsforschung [Anonymous criticism Peer review researched]. In Drehscheibe E-Mitteleuropa [Hub e-Middle-Europe], ed. E. Pipp. Wien: Phoibos.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Watts, G. 2010. Emasculating hypothetical oddities? British Medical Journal 340: c726.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Cressey, D. 2010. Editor says no to peer review for controversial journal. Nature News, March 18. http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100318/full/news.2010.132.html. Accessed August 12, 2012.
  46. 46.
    Enserink, M. 2010. Elsevier to editor: change controversial journal or resign. Science 327: 1316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Duesberg, P.H., D. Mandrioli, A. McCormack, et al. 2011. AIDS since 1984: no evidence for a new, viral epidemic—not even in Africa. Italian Journal of Anatomy and Embryology 116: 73–92.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Corbyn, Z. 2012. Paper denying HIV–AIDS link secures publication: work by infamous AIDS contrarian passes peer review. Nature News, January 5, 2012. http://www.nature.com/news/paper-denying-hiv-aids-link-secures-publication-1.9737. Accessed August 12, 2012.
  49. 49.
    Medical Hypotheses guide for authors. 2011. Elsevier. http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/623059/authorinstructions. Accessed July 2011.
  50. 50.
    Mulligan A., P. Campbell, and T. Dorigo. 2010. What’s up with peer review: the future of peer review in policy, research, and public debates. Discussion following the oral presentation at the Euroscience Open Forum, Torino, Italy, July 2–7.Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Manku, M.S. 2010. Mehar S Manku on assuming the editorship of Medical Hypotheses. Medical Hypotheses 75: 275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Georg Steinhauser
    • 1
  • Wolfram Adlassnig
  • Jesaka Ahau Risch
  • Serena Anderlini
  • Petros Arguriou
  • Aaron Zolen Armendariz
  • William Bains
  • Clark Baker
  • Martin Barnes
  • Jonathan Barnett
  • Michael Baumgartner
  • Thomas Baumgartner
  • Charles A. Bendall
  • Yvonne S. Bender
  • Max Bichler
  • Teresa Biermann
  • Ronaldo Bini
  • Eduardo Blanco
  • John Bleau
  • Anthony Brink
  • Darin Brown
  • Christopher Burghuber
  • Roy Calne
  • Brian Carter
  • Cesar Castaño
  • Peter Celec
  • Maria Eugenia Celis
  • Nicky Clarke
  • David Cockrell
  • David Collins
  • Brian Coogan
  • Jennifer Craig
  • Cal Crilly
  • David Crowe
  • Antonei B. Csoka
  • Chaza Darwich
  • Topiciprin del Kebos
  • Michele DeRinaldi
  • Bongani Dlamini
  • Tomasz Drewa
  • Michael Dwyer
  • Fabienne Eder
  • Raúl Ehrichs de Palma
  • Dean Esmay
  • Catherine Evans Rött
  • Christopher Exley
  • Robin Falkov
  • Celia Ingrid Farber
  • William Fearn
  • Sophie Felsmann
  • Jarl Flensmark
  • Andrew K. Fletcher
  • Michaela Foster
  • Kostas N. Fountoulakis
  • Jim Fouratt
  • Jesus Garcia Blanca
  • Manuel Garrido Sotelo
  • Florian Gittler
  • Georg Gittler
  • Juan Gomez
  • Juan F. Gomez
  • Maria Grazia Gonzales Polar
  • Jossina Gonzalez
  • Christoph Gösselsberger
  • Lynn Habermacher
  • Michael Hajek
  • Faith Hakala
  • Mary-Sue Haliburton
  • John Robert Hankins
  • Jason Hart
  • Sepp Hasslberger
  • Donalyn Hennessey
  • Andrea Herrmann
  • Mike Hersee
  • Connie Howard
  • Suzanne Humphries
  • Laeeth Isharc
  • Petar Ivanovski
  • Stephen Jenuth
  • Jens Jerndal
  • Christine Johnson
  • Yonas Keleta
  • Anna Kenny
  • Billie Kidd
  • Fritz Kohle
  • Jafar Kolahi
  • Marianne Koller-Peroutka
  • Lyubov Kostova
  • Arunachalam Kumar
  • Alejandro Kurosawa
  • Tony Lance
  • Michael Lechermann
  • Bernhard Lendl
  • Michael Leuchters
  • Evan Lewis
  • Edward Lieb
  • Gloria Lloyd
  • Angelika Losek
  • Yao Lu
  • Saadia Maestracci
  • Dennis Mangan
  • Alberto W. Mares
  • Juan Mazar Barnett
  • Valerie McClain
  • John Sydney McNair
  • Terry Michael
  • Lloyd Miller
  • Partizia Monzani
  • Belen Moran
  • Mike Morris
  • Georg Mößmer
  • Johny Mountain
  • Onnie Mary Moyo Phuthe
  • Marcos Muñoz
  • Sheri Nakken
  • Anne Nduta Wambui
  • Bettina Neunteufl
  • Dimitrije Nikolić
  • Devesh V. Oberoi
  • Gregory Obmode
  • Laura Ogar
  • Jo Ohara
  • Naion Olej Rybine
  • Bryan Owen
  • Kim Wilson Owen
  • Rakesh Parikh
  • Nicholas J. G. Pearce
  • Bernhard Pemmer
  • Chris Piper
  • Ian Prince
  • Terence Reid
  • Heiner Rindermann
  • Stefan Risch
  • Josh Robbins
  • Seth Roberts
  • Ajeandro Romero
  • Michael Thaddäus Rothe
  • Sergio Ruiz
  • Juliane Sacher
  • Wolfgang Sackl
  • Markus Salletmaier
  • Jairaj Sanand
  • Clemens Sauerzopf
  • Thomas Schwarzgruber
  • David Scott
  • Laura Seegers
  • David Seppi
  • Kyle Shields
  • Jolanta Siller-Matula
  • Beldeu Singh
  • Sibusio Sithole
  • Florian Six
  • John R. Skoyles
  • Jildou Slofstra
  • Daphne Anne Sole
  • Werner F. Sommer
  • Mels Sonko
  • Chrislie J. Starr-Casanova
  • Marjorie Elizabeth Steakley
  • Wolfgang Steinhauser
  • Konstantin Steinhoff
  • Johannes H. Sterba
  • Martin Steppan
  • Reinhard Stindl
  • Joe Stokely
  • Karri Stokely
  • Gilles St-Pierre
  • James Stratford
  • Christina Streli
  • Carl Stryg
  • Mike Sullivan
  • Johann Summhammer
  • Amhayes Tadesse
  • David Tavares
  • Laura Thompson
  • Alison Tomlinson
  • Jack Tozer
  • Siro I. Trevisanato
  • Michaela Trimmel
  • Nicole Turner
  • Paul Vahur
  • Jennie van der Byl
  • Tine van der Maas
  • Leo Varela
  • Carlos A. Vega
  • Shiloh Vermaak
  • Alex Villasenor
  • Matt Vogel
  • Georg von Wintzigerode
  • Christoph Wagner
  • Manuel Weinberger
  • Peter Weinberger
  • Nick Wilson
  • Jennifer Finocchio Wolfe
  • Michael A. Woodley
  • Ian Young
  • Glenn Zuraw
  • Nicole Zwiren
  1. 1.AtominstitutVienna University of TechnologyViennaAustria

Personalised recommendations