CCL: On "defending" and "opposing" science

I think Fatima makes raises some excellent concerns here, and I agree that vested interest does enter into the equation when it comes to peer review. Apparently, this isn't limited to journal submissions alone. I apologize for the third party information, but I have heard of a reviewer rejecting a grant proposal, and later plagiarizing it. Fortunately, that particular party was held accountable from what I understand.



From: Fatima Mons fatima.mons^^^ <>
To: "Austin, Amy J " <>
Sent: Sunday, August 19, 2012 10:42 AM
Subject: 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

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