In nutrition or in health and medicine, how important is peer review when it comes to new scientific ideas being accepted? Does it matter whether the ideas are holistic, alternative, integrative, functional, restorative, industrial, pharmaceutical, organic, food-based, or conventional?
The public really cares whether a nutrition-related, medical, or other health-related article is published in a peer-reviewed journal and not a journal where the scientist paid to have his or her work published. Those non-peer reviewed journals are called "toilet journals by some doctors," because they're read on the john by some who consider only peer reviewed articles to have passed the gauntlet. See, Statins and Cholesterol Management, by Dr. Michael Richman. The last part of the clip mentions non-peer reviewed journals.
For the average consumer, it gives a reader more of a feeling of security that any given research has been reviewed by others with recognized, accredited expertise (peer-reviewed) to make sure the study has been validated by someone other than the claims of any given scientist or a research team doing any given study.
Many people just don't have the experience or training to know whether a study is validated or whether there are flaws in it that aren't recognized by the average consumer who turns to health care professionals for interpreting the results of a study, lab results, or a physical exam in plain language.
And numerous people fear advertising because the ads or infomercials may not be "peer-reviewed" by doctors, consumers, scientists, experts, or people using the product rather than advertised only by those making an income from the product. Who does the public listen to most and find credible, believable, and validated by peers who are experts? To whom do you give power? Or do you question everything even when the speaker claims expertise?
A new guide to peer review has been launched yesterday to help the public make sense of research claims. The important point for consumers is to see who funded the studies, an independent third party or an industry that makes a living or otherwise sells a product based on the study's results. Check out the February 8, 2013 news release, "Peer review matters to the public." Elsevier is the publisher. The new guide launched on February 8, 2013 focuses on helping the public make sense of research claims. Download the new guide: Sense About Science.
You have a variety of talk shows on radio or TV featuring a scientist or physician making claims about health and/or nutrition. But how do you as the average consumer know whether the claims are for a special group of people or someone with your condition or at your age? Each day, people are bombarded with claims in newspapers and on the internet that are based on scientific studies.
When faced with a headline that suggests an Alzheimer's drug increases the risk of heart attack or that watching TV is bad for children's mental health, or that pesticides are causing a decline in bee populations, people have to work out what to believe. Which claims should be taken seriously? Which are 'scares'?
I Don't Know What to Believe: Making Sense of Science Stories... explains the peer review process – the system researchers use to assess the validity, significance and originality of papers. It captures experiences and insights from editors and scientists and encourages people to ask "Is it peer reviewed?" when reading science stories. See, Sense About Science.
A similar publication launched in the UK is now used by health workers, librarians, public-health officials, policy-makers, technology companies, safety bodies, popular writers, educators, parenting groups and local government. These are the people who are speaking directly with the public everyday and answering their questions. Understanding peer review and asking about the status of claims is important to society because it helps people make decisions. Download the guide: Sense About Science.
According to the February 8, 2013 news release, "Peer review matters to the public,"Tracey Brown, Managing Director of Sense About Science explains, "We have to establish an understanding that the status of research findings is as important as the findings themselves. This understanding has the capacity to improve the decisions we make across all of society."
Dr Peter R. Jutro, Deputy Director for Science and Policy, National Homeland Security Research Center, Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in the news release, "Sound science is essential to the formulation of sound public policy. A robust peer review process is what helps ensure the quality of science the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency uses for decision making. Efforts that help the public recognize the role of peer review and insist on its use inevitably benefit public health and the environment."
Innovation has to rely on trustworthy evidence. Several experts comment on how evidence-based science is reported as evidence-based journalism
Here are what some experts explained or commented on in the news release. Mariette DiChristina, Editor in Chief and Senior VP, Scientific American explained in the February 8, 2013 news release, Peer review matters to the public, "Science is the engine of human innovation and our advances rely on trustworthy evidence. Peer review is vital to knowing what to trust." And Bob Meyers, President and COO, National Press Foundation said in the press release, "Evidence-based journalism needs evidence-based science."
Dr Virginia Barbour, Medicine Editorial Director, Public Library of Science and Chair, Committee on Publication Ethics said in the news release, "Peer review is an important part of the scientific process, and one indicator that can help readers distinguish in the mass of science they hear reported every day between what they can have confidence in and what they should treat with more caution. Furthermore, understanding how peer review works gives an insight into how science itself is done: I Don't Know What to Believe bridges a crucial gap in understanding between scientists and the public."
Dr Eugenie C. Scott, Executive Director, National Center for Science Education (NCSE) explained in the news release, "Kids! Parents! Teachers! The secret of science can be yours! By reading Sense about Science's invaluable guide "I Don't Know What to Believe," you'll learn what peer review is, why scientists use it, and how it makes science such a powerful tool! A must for anyone whose life is touched by science—oh, wait. That's everyone."
David Ruth, Senior Vice President of Global Communications, Elsevier said in the news release, "Working closely with the patient groups, policymakers, scientists and publishers, Sense About Science has created a guide to peer review that is going to be very useful for anyone, expert or not, trying to evaluate scientific research."
Susan King, Senior Vice President, Journals Publishing Group, ACS Publications and Chair of the Association of American Publishers' Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division Executive Committee explained in the news release, "In a world where unfiltered news and information are everywhere, people are seeking a road map to distinguish what is sound, fact-based content. This guide offers tools to help serve that need. What separates true scientific research from speculation, opinion and hype is peer review, which requires investment by publishers and involvement by the scientific community. The guide offers a fundamental understanding of this intensive process and its critical role in advancing knowledge in our society."
Dr Philip Campbell, Editor-in-Chief, Nature explained in the news release, "Authors of Nature papers frequently comment that assessment by their peers has strengthened their publications, and I can testify to that too. This guide is invaluable in explaining how peer review contributes to the health of science."
Patrick Kelly, VP and Director Journal Publishing, Life Sciences, John Wiley & Sons reported in the news release, "We believe that peer review is one of the bedrocks of scientific publishing. It is extremely important to have impartial, independent reviewers establish the credibility and originality of research. "Wiley has always taken seriously its investment in and management of an extensive peer review infrastructure."
Deborah Kahn, Publishing Director, BioMed Central said in the news release, "The ultimate purpose of all scientific endeavor should be for the public good, but how can the public trust the results of scientific research? Peer review plays a crucial role in informing public judgement through improving the quality and reliability of scientific output. The process of review and feedback is key in determining if science is robust and conducted in an appropriate manner. BioMed Central warmly welcomes the launch of the US version of the public guide to peer review"I Don't Know What to Believe…" as an important step towards helping the public make sense of science."
Leila Mills, Publishing Manager for Journal Development Team at Taylor & Francis explained in the news release, "As the wealth of accessible scientific content continues to grow, peer review is more relevant than ever as the system for evaluating the quality and validity of scholarly research. By providing key information about the process of peer review and the important role it plays, Sense About Science's initiative will help enable the public to identify content they can trust, instilling confidence in science communication." For further information, check out the site, Sense About Science.
The new guide is published by the non-profit Sense About Science and has been produced and distributed with sponsorship and help from: the American Chemical Society, American Institute of Physics, BioMed Central, Elsevier, International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers, National Press Foundation, Nature Publishing Group, Professional/Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers, Public Library of Science, Taylor & Francis Group, Wolters Kluwer and Wiley.
Sense About Science is an international non-profit organization that equips people to make sense of science and evidence on issues that matter to society. With a network of more than 5,000 scientists, the organization works with scientific bodies, research publishers, policymakers, the public and the media to lead public discussions about science and evidence. Through award-winning public campaigns, it shares the tools of scientific thinking and the peer-review process. Sense About Science's growing Voice of Young Science network engages hundreds of early career researchers in public debates about science. Check out Sense About Science's work on peer review to date.
There's also material for teenagers. See, 2008 Peer Review Education Resource is launched to illustrate the work of science publishers to 13-18 year olds through the science curriculum.
2012 Sense About Science's Voice of Young Science network publication: Peer Review – the Nuts and Bolts, by early career researchers for other early career researchers.
2011 Sense About Science give evidence on peer review to UK Parliament Science & Technology Committee.
2010 International Peer Review Workshops, including AAAS, ESOF and US science festivals.
2009 Preliminary findings Peer Review Survey 2009, the largest global survey of authors and reviewers.
2006 Commitments from the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee and the Government Office for Science to peer review in consultations and evidence in policymaking.
2005 UK workshops with education bodies, patient groups and information providers to produce a user-friendly short guide to the peer review process, I Don't Know What to Believe.
2004 Report of the Sense About Science working party on peer review, chaired by Professor Sir Brian Heap FRS, 'Peer Review and the Acceptance of New Scientific Ideas'.