It is widely believed that academic research that has been well-designed, conducted with integrity, peer reviewed and then published in well-established academic journals can be trusted. Yet, considering how closely academics scrutinise each new claim arising from research, it is surprising how easily they accept this recipe, without much evidence at all. Is peer review really helpful and, if so, which form of peer review? Who should be responsible for research integrity – researchers, institutions, journals or funders? These are just some of the issues in need of a proper evidence base.
A new journal launched this week by BioMed Central brings a new focus on research into how research is designed, conducted and reported. Research Integrity and Peer Review will bring together work by researchers from different academic disciplines, creating an interdisciplinary conversation about the process of research and publication.
Research Integrity and Peer Review provides a platform for discussing key issues and potential solutions, based on sound research, across all research areas - Iveta Simera
Research Integrity and Peer Review is endorsed by the EQUATOR Network, which focuses on improving the transparency and quality of published health research by supporting researchers in using reporting guidelines. The EQUATOR UK Centre’s Iveta Simera, also of CSM, is one of the journal’s founding editors-in-chief. She said, “Published research and research processes are increasingly under scrutiny. Research is quite rightly associated with academic freedom but processes should be robust and open to scrutiny. We need better clarification of what constitutes robust science and what are effective methods for sharing research data and findings. Launching a journal with our scope is timely and complementary with existing research efforts.”
The journal’s inaugural batch of papers shows its wide scope, including a review of the SAGER reporting guideline, a case study of the effects of a retraction on citations, a review of how conflicts of interest are disclosed, and a guideline for creating clinical trial reports.
Research Integrity and Peer Review welcomes submissions on all aspects of integrity in the research and publication process. It particularly welcomes submissions that address current controversies and limitations, and offer potential solutions. Its three key areas of interest are research and publication ethics, research reporting, and peer review, although the three are closely linked. Co-editor-in-chief Liz Wager described one example: “Selective or misleading reporting of results may be considered a form of research misconduct, but may be reduced by peer review measures such as journals requiring studies to be registered.”
The Research Integrity and Peer Review editorial team is also committed to modelling best practices. After examining the limited available evidence, they have implemented an open peer review model. Authors will know who their peer reviewers are, and published articles will be accompanied by reviewer reports and made openly accessible to all readers. The editors plan to regularly review the evidence on peer review and adjust this model should alternatives prove better at promoting transparency.
Read more about Research Integrity and Peer Review in an editorial by its four editors-in-chief, Stephanie Harriman, Maria Kowalczuk, Iveta Simera and Liz Wager.