CCL: On "defending" and "opposing" science

 Sent to CCL by: "Fatima  Mons" [fatima.mons]~[]
 There still is *an* amount of bias with referees, especially those that have a
 vested interest.  I know
 of one case involving the aquatic toxicity of ionic liquids that was rejected
 for publication (the paper
 showed that the ionic liquids tested were more toxic in the aquatic environment
 than most
 commonly used molecular solvents).  It turned out that one of the referees had a
 vested interest in
 ionic liquids (I believe that they didn't have a background in environmental
 toxicity either).  Editors
 have to do more to ensure that referees do not have bias due to vested
 interests.  Gerard's point
 about hiding author and organization affiliations from referees during the first
 review is a good
 point.  The names of the authors and referees should be published for complete
 transparency after
 the review process.  Furthermore, if a paper is rejected and the author feels
 that this is not justified,
 the board of editors should review the rejection to see if this is genuinely
 justified and when
 appropriate seek additional referees.  In some cases, such as the aforementioned
 ionic liquid paper,
 calling upon referees with an environmental background would be key here.
 It can be all to easy for an author to make 'grand claims' about benefits of a
 technology when they
 have next to no knowledge of that field.  The scientific community have to do
 more to genuinely
 challenge these claims and journal editors have a moral and scientific duty to
 ensure that the
 science is of an appropriate standard and that there is no adverse bias or
 vested interested involved
 in the publishing process.
 May be there is a novel way to deal with this type of situation.  Publish the
 paper along with the
 referees' comments.  In that way, the whole scientific community can see the
 debate in a transparent
 manner, which prompts discussion and further scientific research.  Clearly the
 editors will have to
 manage this process appropriately and on a case-by-case basis.
 Btw., the paper was published in another journal and subsequently a number of
 other studies have
 been published by other groups which have come to similar conclusions.  So the
 science was indeed