Pamela Bagley, a Biomedical Librarian at Dartmouth, recently attended the Eighth International Congress on Peer Review, held in Chicago on September 10-12. Pamela is Coordinator of Biomedical Research Support at the Biomedical Libraries at Dartmouth, and a member of the Open Dartmouth Working Group. In this interview, she shares insights she gained into current concerns with peer review and other topics from presentations and meetings with those researchers, editors, authors and librarians who study scientific publishing processes.
What brought you to the Peer Review Conference?
PB: I co-authored a paper presented at the Conference along with another librarian, Heather Blunt, TDI faculty members, Steven Woloshin and Lisa Schwartz, and Dartmouth student, Brian White. Our paper presented results of a study aimed at determining if interim clinical trial results tend to be published in higher impact journals than the final clinical trial results. Final results are more important in informing clinical care, so dissemination of final results needs to be effective. The Biomedical librarians routinely engage in the rigorous, reproducible literature searches for systematic reviews or practice guidelines.
What was your role in this work and what did you find?
PB: We were asked to find a set of studies that were published in interim and final forms, and to rigorously process and present those records. The lead authors had found one study where that was the case but overall did not find this was a trend.
What stands out for you as key issues in the Congress on Peer Review?
PB: Key topics in peer review include disclosure of conflicts of interest, comparisons of results of single and double blind review processes, reducing “spin” while still telling a story, and “optimism bias”. In the session on metrics, I noted that presenters used both traditional journal metrics of the impact factor as well as the more nuanced and current altmetric score. This affirmed that both are important. Another major topic is the need to develop processes that forward reporting results while minimizing bias. This meeting brings together people with deep expertise in publishing, a mix of researcher, editors, and publishers, who share the goal to enhance the quality of scientific publishing. People attending are passionate about the accurate reporting of science and aim to work together on problems.