Time for the Journal Ombudsman?

Stricker and Goldberg have had a truly bitter experience;1 unfortunately, many authors had suffered the same. But I think that their criticism of the peer review system is wrongly addressed: the violation of publication ethics--in this case, the maladministration--may be prevented by the journal's appointing of a mediator, the journal's ombudsman. The Lancet did it in 1996; this journal appointed an independent person "to record and, where necessary, to investigate episodes of alleged editorial maladministration when a complainant remains dissatisfied with the journal's first response to criticism."2 This was accepted enthusiastically by a large scientific audience. The annual report, which the ombudsman is obliged to publish, shows that a considerable part of his job is to investigate and solve the problems Stricker and Goldberg had met.3 Perhaps the structural transformation of the sciences will be the end of the peer review system;...

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