When the law intervenes in peer review - articles from the International Journal of Forensic Mental Health

There’s a interesting paper and editorial published in May in the International Journal of Forensic Mental Health. The article is entitled PCL-R Psychopathy: Threats to Sue, Peer Review, and Implications for Science and Law. A Commentary and discusses the implications of a dispute related to the Hare Psychopathy Checklist – Revised (PCL-R) where instead of dealing with criticism via the usual journal processes an author indicated they would seek legal redress if an article was published.

The authors of the commentary, Norman Poythressa and John P. Petrila, take no position on the dispute but instead seek to describe “the collateral damage that may result when threats of litigation are used to suppress the publication of manuscripts that have been accepted for publication in peer-review scientific journals.”

As they conclude, “such threats strike at the heart of the peer review process, may have a chilling effect on the values at the core of academic freedom, and may potentially impede the scientific testing of various theories, models and products. In our view it is far better to debate such matters in peer review journals rather than cut off debate through threats of litigation.”