Peer-Reviewed Transparency

And in follow-up to Nature’s editorial on “Peer Review and Fraud”, which highlights the role of journal editors in detecting potential fraud, Dr. Robert Dellavalle and his colleagues in Colorado urge greater transparency with regard to human subjects research. They specifically note that “We recently examined the instructions to authors of 103 medical journals and found that none requires authors to provide to readers (as online supplementary information accompanying the publication) the protocols approved by these [IRB etc.] committees. … They should require authors to state at submission — and, where judged necessary, in their published articles — that the research has been approved by the relevant ethical committees. … Journals should also require authors to provide the full protocols approved by these committees for the editors and peer reviewers, and to allow the journal, if it wishes, to publish these protocols as online supplementary information accompanying publication of the main paper.” – Nature 445, 364 (25 January 2007)

I can think of many junior clinical researchers who would love to read high-quality IRB protocols as models to make their own arduous task of application that much easier. Would clinical researchers be willing to share these documents publically (versus just with journal reviewers or at all) is the question.

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