Launch of Research Integrity & Peer Review journal

By Elizabeth Wager

As Isaac Newton famously remarked, each generation of scientists can see further than the last, simply because it “stands on the shoulders of giants”. Scientific discovery builds on previous discoveries, and researchers learn of other work from publications. But this cumulative model of scientific research only works if the reports of previous experiments, in other words, the scientific literature, is reliable. If the literature is unreliable, then the whole edifice may collapse, like a house of cards.

The reliability of the scientific literature is therefore of great importance not only to researchers but also to funders, policy makers and everybody affected by research which, these days, means absolutely everybody. Research affects the medicines we receive, the food we eat, and the way in which society works from transport to education.

However, there is growing evidence that the research literature is not as reliable as we might wish. For example, we know that positive results are sometimes published more than once while negative or inconclusive findings are not published at all, leading to publication bias. In the field of medicine, it has become apparent that about half of all clinical trials are never published. Even when trials are published, there is clear evidence of “selective reporting”, meaning that positive or statistically significant outcomes are reported, while negative, inconvenient or inconclusive findings are omitted.

There is also considerable evidence of deficiencies in reporting of both results and methods. This may be due to word limits of journals or researchers’ lack of awareness of reporting guidelines, but, whatever the cause, it reduces the usefulness of articles to readers and often makes it hard or impossible to replicate findings.

Finally, it has been observed for some time, that the peer review process, which determines what both what research gets funded and what results get published in journals is imperfect, sometimes rejecting genuine breakthroughs while accepting fraudulent material.

Problems with reporting scientific research, from whatever causes they might arise, therefore deserve serious study, so we can prevent, detect, and correct them. However, until now, such “research on research” was often hard to publish. A new journal, Research Integrity & Peer Review, launched by BioMed Central at the 4th World Conference on Research Integrity in Rio de Janeiro in May 2015 aims not only to provide a forum but also to act as a stimulus for such research.

Recognizing the breadth of the field, the journal has four co-Editors-in-Chief, covering research and publication ethics, research reporting, and peer review. The journal has adopted the Open Access model, so all articles will be free to readers. Funded researchers will be expected to pay an article processing charge but waivers will be offered for researchers from low and middle-income countries and for those whose work is unfunded.

The editors hope the journal will stimulate new research into these important topics, and plans to implement innovative peer-review models if they are supported by evidence. From the outset it will use signed peer review, and reviewers comments will be made available not only to authors but also to readers.

The journal welcomes submission of original research, surveys, literature reviews and reports of quality improvement initiatives at journals and funders. However, it will not consider reports of, or complaints about, individual editorial decisions from specific journals.

We hope that the launch of this journal will enable researchers and publishers to investigate and then share best practice, and thus improve the conduct and reporting of research.

The journal’s website is:
www.researchintegrityjournal.com

 

Elizabeth Wager
Publications Consultant, Sideview
Princes Risborough, UK
Co-Editor-in-Chief, Research Integrity & Peer Review

 

Como citar este post [ISO 690/2010]:

WAGER, E. Launch of Research Integrity & Peer Review journal [online]. SciELO in Perspective, 2015 [viewed ]. Available from: https://blog.scielo.org/en/2015/10/21/launch-of-research-integrity-peer-review-journal/

 

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