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The Bully Pulpit of Peer Review?

The Scholarly Kitchen's Tim Vines notes that "the opinions of highly respected senior scientists tend to get a lot of attention, and a number have lamented the state of peer review." Because of this, he asks: "What if the reviewer experience for high-profile researchers is the exception and not the rule?"

Touching on an oft-expressed gripe about peer review — that "the rapid growth in the number of papers submitted to journals has led to a massive increase in the demands on the reviewer community," he says — Vines digs into data on reviewer invitations by rank and prestige. In the context of the journal Molecular Ecology, Vines found that "the main predictor of how often someone was invited was how much they published" there. So, contrary to popular thought, " the data … actually suggest that being famous generally makes you less likely to be invited. … However, as a researcher you can only be central to one field, and peripheral to lots of others, and hence being famous may mean you attract review invitations from many different disciplines," Vines says.

Overall, he adds, "the big picture here is that senior academics are being bombarded with requests to review papers. … There's little evidence above that junior researchers are overburdened." And that, Vines says, is perhaps why some senior scientists might have a biased view on the state of peer review.

The Scan

Renewed Gain-of-Function Worries

The New York Times writes that the pandemic is renewing concerns about gain-of-function research.

Who's Getting the Patents?

A trio of researchers has analyzed gender trends in biomedical patents issued between 1976 and 2010 in the US, New Scientist reports.

Other Uses

CBS Sunday Morning looks at how mRNA vaccine technology could be applied beyond SARS-CoV-2.

PLOS Papers Present Analysis of Cervicovaginal Microbiome, Glycosylation in Model Archaea, More

In PLOS this week: functional potential of the cervicovaginal microbiome, glycosylation patterns in model archaea, and more.