Sunday, May 20, 2007

Plenary Session II: McGovern Lecture

“Peer Review in Science and Medicine: Does It or Can It Work?”
Lecturer: Arthur Caplan, Director, Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Caplan addressed the issues of "conflict of interest" and the quality "peer-review process." Some of the points made during the lecture can be reviewed in "Halfway there: the struggle to manage conflicts of interest", an editorial by him in the Journal of Clinical Investigation (J Clin Invest. 2007 March 1; 117(3): 509–510.)

He feels that librarians can make a difference in helping to restore credibility of the peer-review process by questioning publishers about their process. The process should be more transparent to the readers of the articles. He suggested that reviewers be paid and that, at least in academia, peer-reviewing should be counted significantly in promotion and tenure.

He explored the role of press releases and media exposure in hyperbolizing newly published research as "a breakthrough." And, reminded us that science is a process and not an event. Breakthroughs only come in retrospect after study and replication of research findings.

Dr. Caplan has a regular column on called Breaking Bioethics.

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