bims-skolko Biomed News
on Scholarly communication
Issue of 2020‒05‒24
eighteen papers selected by
Thomas Krichel
Open Library Society


  1. Health Commun. 2020 May 18. 1-5
    Donovan EE, Mackert M, Lindstadt CJ, Harrison MA.
      The peer review process is a necessary, labor-intensive, and imperfect element of scientific research. Among the many issues identified by its critics, finding willing reviewers can be an arduous task for journal editors and is acknowledged as one of the primary factors holding up the publication process. In an attempt to better understand and serve Health Communication reviewers, we surveyed them and inquired about their motivations for reviewing a manuscript, including why they agree, decline, or disregard invitations to review submissions. According to responses from 380 reviewers, the most compelling reasons for agreeing to review reflected a dedication to performing scholarly service and loyalty to the journal. The primary reasons selected for declining to review included lack of time and insufficient expertise to evaluate the submission. The main reasons for failing to respond to requests to review were e-mail overload and indecision about whether to take on the review. Recognition for service was the most recommended suggestion offered to motivate reviewers to agree to take on more manuscripts. On the whole, reviewers feel a strong sense of duty to review manuscripts. However, time constraints, poor fit, and lack of recognition are roadblocks to agreeing.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1080/10410236.2020.1762970
  2. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2020 May 18. 20(1): 122
    Herber OR, Bradbury-Jones C, Böling S, Combes S, Hirt J, Koop Y, Nyhagen R, Veldhuizen JD, Taylor J.
      BACKGROUND: Peer review is at the heart of the scientific process. With the advent of digitisation, journals started to offer electronic articles or publishing online only. A new philosophy regarding the peer review process found its way into academia: the open peer review. Open peer review as practiced by BioMed Central (BMC) is a type of peer review where the names of authors and reviewers are disclosed and reviewer comments are published alongside the article. A number of articles have been published to assess peer reviews using quantitative research. However, no studies exist that used qualitative methods to analyse the content of reviewers' comments.METHODS: A focused mapping review and synthesis (FMRS) was undertaken of manuscripts reporting qualitative research submitted to BMC open access journals from 1 January - 31 March 2018. Free-text reviewer comments were extracted from peer review reports using a 77-item classification system organised according to three key dimensions that represented common themes and sub-themes. A two stage analysis process was employed. First, frequency counts were undertaken that allowed revealing patterns across themes/sub-themes. Second, thematic analysis was conducted on selected themes of the narrative portion of reviewer reports.
    RESULTS: A total of 107 manuscripts submitted to nine open-access journals were included in the FMRS. The frequency analysis revealed that among the 30 most frequently employed themes "writing criteria" (dimension II) is the top ranking theme, followed by comments in relation to the "methods" (dimension I). Besides that, some results suggest an underlying quantitative mindset of reviewers. Results are compared and contrasted in relation to established reporting guidelines for qualitative research to inform reviewers and authors of frequent feedback offered to enhance the quality of manuscripts.
    CONCLUSIONS: This FMRS has highlighted some important issues that hold lessons for authors, reviewers and editors. We suggest modifying the current reporting guidelines by including a further item called "Degree of data transformation" to prompt authors and reviewers to make a judgment about the appropriateness of the degree of data transformation in relation to the chosen analysis method. Besides, we suggest that completion of a reporting checklist on submission becomes a requirement.
    Keywords:  Journals; Manuscript review; Mapping; Open access publishing; Peer review; Qualitative analysis; Qualitative research; Synthesis; reviewer’s report
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1186/s12874-020-01005-y
  3. BMJ Open. 2020 May 18. 10(5): e036799
    Blanco D, Schroter S, Aldcroft A, Moher D, Boutron I, Kirkham JJ, Cobo E.
      OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the impact of an editorial intervention to improve completeness of reporting of reports of randomised trials.DESIGN: Randomised controlled trial (RCT).
    SETTING: BMJ Open's quality improvement programme.
    PARTICIPANTS: 24 manuscripts describing RCTs.
    INTERVENTIONS: We used an R Shiny application to randomise manuscripts (1:1 allocation ratio, blocks of 4) to the intervention (n=12) or control (n=12) group. The intervention was performed by a researcher with expertise in the content of the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) and consisted of an evaluation of completeness of reporting of eight core CONSORT items using the submitted checklist to locate information, and the production of a report containing specific requests for authors based on the reporting issues found, provided alongside the peer review reports. The control group underwent the usual peer review.
    OUTCOMES: The primary outcome is the number of adequately reported items (0-8 scale) in the revised manuscript after the first round of peer review. The main analysis was intention-to-treat (n=24), and we imputed the scores of lost to follow-up manuscripts (rejected after peer review and not resubmitted). The secondary outcome is the proportion of manuscripts where each item was adequately reported. Two blinded reviewers assessed the outcomes independently and in duplicate and solved disagreements by consensus. We also recorded the amount of time to perform the intervention.
    RESULTS: Manuscripts in the intervention group (mean: 7.01; SD: 1.47) were more completely reported than those in the control group (mean: 5.68; SD: 1.43) (mean difference 1.43, 95% CI 0.31 to 2.58). We observed the main differences in items 6a (outcomes), 9 (allocation concealment mechanism), 11a (blinding) and 17a (outcomes and estimation). The mean time to perform the intervention was 87 (SD 42) min.
    CONCLUSIONS: We demonstrated the benefit of involving a reporting guideline expert in the editorial process. Improving the completeness of RCTs is essential to enhance their usability.
    TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: NCT03751878.
    Keywords:  medical education & training; medical journalism; statistics & research methods
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-036799
  4. Linacre Q. 2019 Feb;86(1): 103-114
    Baumgartner F.
      Publication bias in medical journals depends on outside influences and the particular ideological bent of the editorial board. The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) is a premier medical scientific publication having among the highest impact rankings of any research journal. The Vioxx question and industry ties it highlighted have led to legitimate questions of whether significant conflicts of interest have arisen within NEJM that compromise the free exchange of scientific information and ideas. Over the past two decades, several socially charged areas have been treated with considerable bias in the editorial policy of NEJM, including the issues of human embryonic stem cell research and abortion. From 2000 to 2017, NEJM published over twenty pieces favorable toward human embryonic stem cell research and over fifty pieces favorable to abortion, with virtually no publication of contrary opinion. An aggressive editorial defense of Planned Parenthood Federation most recently seems particularly striking. A secular journal which is meant to represent the entire spectrum of physician opinion in controversial issues has a practical, if not also an ethical, responsibility to provide an unbiased forum for intelligible discussion for evaluation of the merits of particular issues. To do otherwise is publication bias that suppresses legitimate contrary viewpoints having merit and validity.Nontechnical Summary: Publication bias in medical journals is detrimental to the free exchange of ideas regarding controversial issues. From 2000 to 2017, a premier publication, the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), has shown considerable bias in only publishing articles and editorials highly favorable toward human embryonic stem cell research and abortion, without permitting valid discussion and publication of contrary opinion. The recent strong editorial defense by NEJM of Planned Parenthood Federation in their sale of aborted fetal body parts seems particularly striking and disproportionate. Publication bias suppresses legitimate contrary viewpoints with merit and validity, suppressing fair debate in controversial issues.
    Keywords:  Abortion; Conflict of interest; Dignity of the human person; Journal bias; Medical ethics and children; Stem cells
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1177/0024363919838855
  5. J Insect Sci. 2020 May 01. pii: 6. [Epub ahead of print]20(3):
    Wittman JT, Aukema BH.
      The ability to replicate scientific experiments is a cornerstone of the scientific method. Sharing ideas, workflows, data, and protocols facilitates testing the generalizability of results, increases the speed that science progresses, and enhances quality control of published work. Fields of science such as medicine, the social sciences, and the physical sciences have embraced practices designed to increase replicability. Granting agencies, for example, may require data management plans and journals may require data and code availability statements along with the deposition of data and code in publicly available repositories. While many tools commonly used in replicable workflows such as distributed version control systems (e.g., 'git') or script programming languages for data cleaning and analysis may have a steep learning curve, their adoption can increase individual efficiency and facilitate collaborations both within entomology and across disciplines. The open science movement is developing within the discipline of entomology, but practitioners of these concepts or those desiring to work more collaboratively across disciplines may be unsure where or how to embrace these initiatives. This article is meant to introduce some of the tools entomologists can incorporate into their workflows to increase the replicability and openness of their work. We describe these tools and others, recommend additional resources for learning more about these tools, and discuss the benefits to both individuals and the scientific community and potential drawbacks associated with implementing a replicable workflow.
    Keywords:  data curation; data management; open access; preprint servers; reproducibility
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1093/jisesa/ieaa036
  6. J Empir Res Hum Res Ethics. 2020 May 19. 1556264620922651
    Sacco DF, Bruton SV, Brown M, Medlin MM.
      Two preregistered studies explored the likelihood paper reviewers would request clarification from authors regarding potential questionable research practices (QRPs). Study 1 participants were instructed to imagine reviewing a journal manuscript as either a coauthor or peer reviewer and rate the extent to which they would request clarification from the author when encountering potential QRPs. Participants reported greater likelihood of requesting clarification when assigned to the coauthor relative to the peer reviewer role. Study 2 participants were assigned to either an anonymous or open-review condition and rated the extent to which they would seek clarification from an author regarding potential QRPs. Men (but not women) in the open review condition reported greater likelihood of seeking clarification about potential QRPs than men in the blind review condition. Results provide tentative evidence that motivational factors influence the peer review process, and suggestions are made for improving peer review practices.
    Keywords:  peer review; questionable research practices; research accountability; self
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1177/1556264620922651
  7. Simul Healthc. 2020 May 18.
    Lydon S, Madden C, De Bhulbh Á, Maher S, Byrne D, OʼConnor P.
      STATEMENT: Publication in peer-reviewed journals, and serving on editorial boards, is considered an indicator of academic productivity and success, and a means of influencing discourse and practice in a field. This bibliometric review explored gender in authorship, and editorship, across the 3 existing English language, nonspecialty specific healthcare simulation journals. In total, 40.4% of publications had women first authors and 34.4% had women senior authors. There were no differences by journal and no apparent changes over time. Poor participation of women on editorial boards (38.1% of editorial board members were women) was observed. The observed level of representation of women as first and senior authors, and on editorial boards, is comparable with other health sciences domains but nonetheless warrants attention and improvement. Future research examining the profile of those working within simulation or evaluating strategies to improve the participation of women within healthcare simulation research and journals would be of interest.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1097/SIH.0000000000000453
  8. Bioethics. 2020 May 20.
    Agoramoorthy G, Hsu MJ, Shieh P.
      The Editorial titled "COVID19: Why justice and transparency in hospital triage policies are paramount" by Schuklenk, which appeared in Bioethics, is striking as it features the importance of honesty and openness in research ethics. Ethics, of course, is an integral part of research, and the publication ethics is even more crucial to sustain the quality of scientific output.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1111/bioe.12772
  9. Biochem Mol Biol Educ. 2020 May 19.
    Craig PA.
      Publishing has always been a part of academic tradition and there is increasing pressure on faculty to publish, even those who carry heavy teaching loads. This article, based on a presentation at the IUBMB 2019 Education Conference session on Publishing in Education, contains suggestions on how to conduct educational research with an eye toward publishing your findings.
    Keywords:  assessment of educational activities; curriculum assessment; learning and curriculum design
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1002/bmb.21358
  10. Nature. 2020 May 19.
    Gewin V.
      
    Keywords:  Careers; Publishing; Research data
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-020-01516-0
  11. Br Dent J. 2020 May;228(10): 791-794
    Radford DR, Seath RJG, Davda LS, Potts G.
      Background Many dental professionals are now completing higher degrees that involve a research project. However, many of those research projects, although worthwhile, are not written up for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.Aim To encourage and assist novice authors in transferring their project report into a paper to submit for publication.Discussion The relationship between the authors and contributors is considered, and advice is given on how to focus on the specific research question and produce a succinct paper within the target journal's word limit. Emphasis is placed on choosing the right journal for submission and the need to follow the 'instructions to authors', as well as what happens post-submission, post-acceptance and post-publication. Furthermore, some of the difficulties that the authors have encountered on their own publication journeys are highlighted.Conclusion Great satisfaction will be derived if the novice researcher makes the most of their opportunity of undertaking a research project and subsequently getting it published in a peer-reviewed journal. Publishing gives the author recognition within their professional community, a feeling of personal achievement, can create better career perspectives and allows others to build on the work.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-020-1539-1
  12. Nature. 2020 May 20.
    Viglione G.
      
    Keywords:  Publishing; Research management
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-020-01294-9
  13. Nature. 2019 May 24.
    Silver A.
      
    Keywords:  Funding; Peer review
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-019-01651-3
  14. Nat Chem. 2020 May 21.
    Coudert FX.
      An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41557-020-0492-6
  15. Intern Med J. 2020 May;50(5): 646
    Sutherland T.
      
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1111/imj.14832
  16. Clin Microbiol Infect. 2020 May 15. pii: S1198-743X(20)30285-8. [Epub ahead of print]
    Leibovici L, Allerberger F, Cevik M, Huttner A, Paul M, Rodríguez-Baño J, Scudeller L.
      
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmi.2020.05.008