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Solutions for the Peer Review Problem

The peer review system is "ostensibly one of the central pillars of modern science," says Michael Eisen at his It Is Not Junk blog. But while all attempts to fix the problems that plague the system have been met with a less than enthusiastic response from the scientific community, peer review as practiced now is "conservative, cumbersome, capricious and intrusive" and "poisons science," he says. The worst problem is that it has created a handful of journals that are considered the "gatekeepers of success in science," says Eisen, who is a co-founder of the Public Library of Science. In addition, the peer review process takes too long, and the system isn't very effective at what it's supposed to do, which is to make sure that high-quality science gets published, and to keep fraudulent or otherwise "flawed" science from getting published.

Eisen says there is a simple fix. "We could do this without the absurd time-wasting and frivolity of the current system, by decoupling publication from assessment," he says. Under this system, a paper is submitted to a journal and assigned an editor, who would make a first assessment as to the suitability for publication. If it passes the screen, it gets sent to peer reviewers, who assess the technical validity of the paper and the intended audience. Then the paper is passed back to the editor for a final decision on publication, and then back to the authors for a final OK. This system has been implemented in PLoS One, among others, and Eisen says it is faster and more efficient.

(HT: DrugMonkey)

The Scan

LINE-1 Linked to Premature Aging Conditions

Researchers report in Science Translational Medicine that the accumulation of LINE-1 RNA contributes to premature aging conditions and that symptoms can be improved by targeting them.

Team Presents Cattle Genotype-Tissue Expression Atlas

Using RNA sequences representing thousands of cattle samples, researchers looked at relationships between cattle genotype and tissue expression in Nature Genetics.

Researchers Map Recombination in Khoe-San Population

With whole-genome sequences for dozens of individuals from the Nama population, researchers saw in Genome Biology fine-scale recombination patterns that clustered outside of other populations.

Myotonic Dystrophy Repeat Detected in Family Genome Sequencing Analysis

While sequencing individuals from a multi-generation family, researchers identified a myotonic dystrophy type 2-related short tandem repeat in the European Journal of Human Genetics.