What is the future of peer review? Why is there fraud in science? Is plagiarism out of control? Why do scientists do bad things? Is it all a case of: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing?”
Chris R Triggle1, David J Triggle2
1School of Medical Sciences, RMIT University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; 2School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo NY, USA
Abstract: Peer review is an essential component of the process that is universally applied prior to the acceptance of a manuscript, grant or other scholarly work. Most of us willingly accept the responsibilities that come with being a reviewer but how comfortable are we with the process? Peer review is open to abuse but how should it be policed and can it be improved? A bad peer review process can inadvertently ruin an individual’s career, but are there penalties for policing a reviewer who deliberately sabotages a manuscript or grant? Science has received an increasingly tainted name because of recent high profile cases of alleged scientific misconduct. Once considered the results of work stress or a temporary mental health problem, scientific misconduct is increasingly being reported and proved to be a repeat offence. How should scientific misconduct be handled—is it a criminal offence and subject to national or international law? Similarly plagiarism is an ever-increasing concern whether at the level of the student or a university president. Are the existing laws tough enough? These issues, with appropriate examples, are dealt with in this review.
Keywords: peer review, journal impact factors, conflicts of interest, scientific misconduct, plagiarism