Nature Starts a Blog

Stung by a string of controversies, corrections and frauds, and inspired we hope by the work of science bloggers in reinstating a culture of broad scientific debate, Nature magazine has instituted a what it calls a ‘Peer Review Trial‘.

In Nature’s peer review trial, lasting for three months, authors can choose to have their submissions posted on a preprint server for open comments, in parallel with the conventional peer review process. Anyone in the field may then post comments, provided they are prepared to identify themselves.

Looks like a blog, sounds like a blog, is a blog!

Some very interesting articles critical of existing peer review in the
forum
raise points already made on this blog here,
here,
here, and
here. Here is a list of topics presently in the forum.

  1. An open, two-stage peer-review journal.
  2. Reviving a culture of scientific debate.
  3. Can ‘open peer review’ work for biologists?
  4. Researchers need reviewers to check their stats.
  5. Analysing the purpose of peer review.
  6. What authors, editors and reviewers should do to improve peer review.
  7. Wisdom of the crowds.
  8. Scientific publishers should let their online readers become reviewers.
  9. Certification in a digital era.
  10. The pros and cons of open peer review.
  11. Should authors be told who their reviewers are?
  12. Even reviewed literature can be cherry-picked to support any argument.

I wish them all the best, but credit should go where it is due. Without science bloggers and participants donating their time to finding flaws in exisiting peer reviewed articles — such examples in Nature as the takedown of South Korean human stem-cell researcher Hwang, and corrections of Mann’s false statistics supporting the hockeystick graph of climate history by McIntyre — the process of reform would not have begun.

There is much to be concerned with about the level of verification and due diligence in climate science, biodiversity and other areas, and Nature is taking some positive steps, drawing on the wisdom of the blogosphere.

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