Thursday, September 5, 2013

HI-BAR (Had I Been A Reviewer)

Had I Been a Reviewer

If you're a researcher, you undoubtedly have had the experience of reading a new paper in your specialty area and thinking to yourself, "Had I been a reviewer, I would have raised serious concerns about these findings and claims." Or, less charitably, you might ask, "How the hell did that paper survive peer review?"

Each paper is reviewed by only 2 or 3 people, and small samples can lead to flawed conclusions. Given that I can't insert myself into the review process in advance of publication, I will, on occasion, use my blog to post the sorts of comments I would have made Had I Been A Reviewer of the original manuscript. My comments won't always take the same form that they would have if I had reviewed the paper in advance of publication when constructive comments might improve a manuscript. Rather, they will comment on the strengths and shortcomings of the finished product. On occasion, when I have reviewed a manuscript and the paper was published without addressing major concerns, I might post the reviews here as well (I always sign my reviews, so they won't come as a surprise to the authors in such cases).

Not all of these posts will be take-downs or critiques, although some will be. Post-publication review can help to correct mistakes in the literature, and it also identifies controversies that might have been glossed over in a manuscript media coverage of it and it can inspire future research. I hope that more researchers will take up the call and post their own HI-BAR post-publication reviews.