4/9/15 Peer Review


You can find papers on just about every side of a topic.  Think tanks, advocacy groups, and activists churn out reports arguing their side of a contested issue.

Some are authoritative.  Others should be read with skepticism.

Case in point.  A British medical association recently published this report  that claimed to have reviewed fracking “through a comprehensive public health lens.”  The report prompted several prominent British doctors to publicly oppose fracking on health grounds.

Then it was reported several of the paper’s claims were not accurate.  Some of the report was written by an anti-fracking activist who had no medical training, whatsoever.

Some papers are indeed sketchy. 

On the other hand, much credibility is given to peer-reviewed studies.  There are considered near-pure science.

These are papers reviewed by experts to ensure they were properly researched and analyzed before publication.

So, it was stunning when science, technology and medical publisher BioMed announced it was retracting dozens of published studies.  It alleges peer-review fraud [and here].  BioMed publishes nearly 300 peer-reviewed journals.

A watchdog group has warned of a possibly larger scandal.  There may be a widespread fraud affecting countless professional journals.

Such a fraud could have global consequences.  Possibly affecting issues as critical as medical research and pharmaceutical R&D.

It leads us to ask the question: Who’s auditing the auditors?