Peer review in stem cell research
A news item on the BBC’s Today programme this morning discussed the issue of what can potentially happen when a small group of researchers predominate in a field. Two scientists working in stem cell research suggested that such small groups can tend to dominate the review process of papers and lead to bias and delays in publication of papers from other groups. Conversely, poor quality papers may be published if the peer review is not rigorous enough.
This issue was raised earlier, in July, 2009 when a wider group of stem cell scientists published a open letter to journal editors highlighting their concerns, and asked journal editors publishing these papers to adopt the EMBO Journal model, whereby all anonymous reviews on published papers are posted alongside the papers.
All editors will have come across papers held up in review, and arguably the system of anonymous and closed peer review makes such behaviour more likely. There are a number of other possible ways of mitigating this problem. BioMed Central has published the signed reviews on its medical papers for many years. The BMJ requires reviewers to sign their reviews, though does not publish them.
Are there other examples of more transparent peer review in other disciplines?