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Peer Review Under Review

DNA Repair's editor-in-chief, Errol Friedberg, says that it's time to begin assessing the deficiencies and merits of the peer review system. These days, he says, international congresses are convened to study peer review in biomedical journals, which can address concerns about whether or not it even works. Friedberg summarizes lessons learned from one such meeting: keeping the identity of an author secret from reviewers doesn't improve the review, reviewers under 40 write better reviews, reviewers signing their reviews and passing them to co-reviewers has no obvious effect on the quality of the review, and bias and parochialism exist within the system. "Finally, and perhaps more significantly," he adds, "developing a useful instrument to measure manuscript quality remains a huge challenge." Friedberg says he would like to see data supporting the idea that "mature, unbiased and intelligent examination of manuscripts by reviewers who begin their examination of papers with every intention of finding merit in them rather than finding fault, provides a means of identifying meritorious papers." Ideas for improvement of the system are also needed, he says.

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.