To Maintain Trust In Science, Lose The Peer Review

In their commentary article, To Maintain Trust in Science, Lose the Peer Review, Benjamin Mazer, MD, MBA and John M. Mandrola, MD share their views on the problems with peer reviews and what should be our next step moving forward to decrease mistrust when disseminating information. This article was originally published on Medscape’s news and perspective section.

They state “In truth, scientific journals have always been a weak check on misinformation. For every journal article published, only a few volunteer reviewers evaluate the work before publication. The vulnerabilities of “peer review” have been described even by those charged with managing it, such as former BMJ editor Richard Smith.[2] He and his colleagues have intentionally introduced errors into manuscripts sent for peer review, and found that these deliberate errors were often missed.[3] Reviewers vary greatly in how closely they examine a manuscript; they often have their own agenda and conflicts biasing their evaluation; if flaws are identified after publication, the study is almost never retracted.”

They propose that “…People with expertise in journalism and public policy could help improve translation of science. Experts in these disciplines are trained to evaluate the entire context of an event, to seek multiple viewpoints, and to write in a fair and accessible manner. Because they are better-equipped to tease out fraud and bias, and to consider the downstream consequences for the public, people with such expertise should be regularly reviewing and even editing scientific manuscripts.

In close collaboration, scientists, journalists, and policy experts could be even more effective. It will not be cheap to reorient the scientific literature toward a journalistic, context-aware approach, but the money is there. The for-profit scientific publishing industry has annual revenues over $20 billion, some of the highest margins of any industry. At the same time, the decline of traditional news media has created a glut of underemployed journalists.

This new interdisciplinary “contextual review” could be reserved for pivotal studies that will influence patient care or reframe our understanding of fundamental scientific models; niche, technical work can be evaluated in real time on more affordable preprint servers by the scientists who will make use of it.”

To read the read the article in its entirety, follow the following link: https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/908647?src=WNL_infoc_190223_MSCPEDIT_Ward&uac=313531AK&impID=1892054&faf=1#vp_1