Review queries usefulness of peer review

Cochrane Review finds little evidence that peer-review ensures quality of biomedical research.

Pat Hagan(phagan@btinternet.com)
Jan 27, 2003

The future of the current system of peer review has again come under question, after a report concluded there is little evidence to show it upholds good science.

The review, "Editorial Peer Review for Improving the Quality of Reports Of Biomedical Studies," was published last week by The Cochrane Collaboration, a UK body that releases regular systematic reviews of medical and scientific evidence.

After analysing 135 studies to measure the effects of peer review, the reviewers concluded: "At present, there is little empirical evidence to support the use of editorial peer review as a mechanism to ensure quality of biomedical research, despite its widespread use and costs. A large, well-funded programme of research on the effects of editorial peer review is needed."

The reviewers are keen to stress that lack of evidence that peer-review works is not the same as evidence that it doesn't work. They emphasize, for example,...

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