Intended for healthcare professionals


Promoting research into peer review

BMJ 1994; 309 doi: (Published 16 July 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:143
  1. R Smith

    One of the jobs of the editor of the BMJ is to sit on the editorial boards of the 18 special journals owned by the BMJ Publishing Group. At the meetings of these boards many questions are asked about the peer review process. What can be done to raise the standard of reviewing? How many reviewers should be used? How should they be selected? Should reviewers be blinded to the names of the authors? Or, in contrast, should the traditional anonymity of reviewers be abolished? Why are reviewers anonymous anyway? Should authors be encouraged to suggest reviewers for their own papers? Will this corrupt the peer review process? Should statistical reviewers be used? Should they be used for all papers, and should they be used before or after clinical reviewers? The same questions arise at most meetings, and no doubt they arise at the editorial boards of all the many thousands of biomedical journals published around the world.

    Many of the people on the boards have a long experience of reviewing papers, and many of them have strong opinions on the questions that arise. Many, indeed, are confident that they know the answers. Yet the members of the boards - most of whom are doctors and clinical researchers - usually make their statements without producing any systematic evidence whatsoever. People who increasingly in their clinical lives make decisions on the treatment of patients on the basis of scientifically sound, peer reviewed, published evidence seem …

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