Medical Publishing in the Age of Web 2.0

March 24, 2010, 12:11 am

In a must-read post on the British Medical Journal (BMJ) blog site, Richard Smith argues that the traditional peer-review system as a means to filter medical literature before publication is “slow, expensive, largely a lottery, poor at detecting errors and fraud, anti-innovatory, biased, and prone to abuse”.  He suggests moving from a model of “filter, then publish” to one of “publish, then filter”.  In other words, promote free and open publication, with articles posted online along with all reviews, comments, and criticism.  Obviously,  Web 2.0 tools suddenly bring such a proposal within the reach of possibility.   I doubt medical journals would abandon all judgment regarding what they publish.  But Smith is clearly on to something, and I agree completely with his position that peer review has utterly failed to assure consistent quality in the medical literature.  For a more extensive explication of his critique, see his piece “Peer review: a flawed process at the heart of science and journals” in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.

One Comment:

  1. precordialthump Says:

    Hear Hear!