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Bias in the Peer-Review Buddy System?

Nature's The Great Beyond asks: "Who needs friends when you've got peer reviewers?" Blogger Ewen Callaway dissects a PLoS One paper that appeared online this week, in which researchers analyze whether open peer review systems discourage biases, such as those that often surface when authors request specific reviewers for their manuscripts. Researchers at the Max Planck Society in Munich, Germany, and the University of Zurich in Switzerland looked at Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics' semi-open peer review system and found that signs of bias accompanied "access to reviews and information about who wrote them," Callaway reports, adding that "on papers where there was disagreement among ... reviewers, those recommended by the author were more likely to provide favorable feedback and accept a paper than the editor-recommended reviewer." Study co-author Lutz Bormann tells Nature that "the danger is really that an author suggested their best friends," although on the flip-side, author-suggested reviewers may be experts in the field, and therefore a better fit to critique the paper.

The Scan

Billions for Antivirals

The US is putting $3.2 billion toward a program to develop antivirals to treat COVID-19 in its early stages, the Wall Street Journal reports.

NFT of the Web

Tim Berners-Lee, who developed the World Wide Web, is auctioning its original source code as a non-fungible token, Reuters reports.

23andMe on the Nasdaq

23andMe's shares rose more than 20 percent following its merger with a special purpose acquisition company, as GenomeWeb has reported.

Science Papers Present GWAS of Brain Structure, System for Controlled Gene Transfer

In Science this week: genome-wide association study ties variants to white matter stricture in the brain, and more.