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Evidence matters to the public

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Plant Science Panel

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'The Ugly Truth'

by Tracey Brown, director of Sense About Science

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Peer Review: The Nuts & Bolts - April workshop 2014


We held a peer review workshop for early career researchers on 25th April 2014 at King's College London.

Peer Review Workshop April 2014

Researchers took the opportunity to raise questions and queries about peer review before suggesting solutions to potential problems. The participants – early career researchers from diverse fields – then heard from a panel of editors who discussed issues of fraud, research misconduct, how to be a good reviewer and how to get your paper accepted. 

The participants raised strengths and weaknesses of peer-review. For example, "It gives you chance to show your idea to an expert before you show the world but it can be slow" and "You can make your work better with peer review but the process can be confusing". Interestingly, anonymity was seen as a positive and a negative attribute of peer-review. The participants liked that they could be honest by reviewing anonymously. However, they worried that when they were the author, their reviewer might be overly critical if anonymous. 

The panel gave tips on how to be a good reviewer: Be concise. Be clear. Be positive and give constructive suggestions. Be on time!

The panel gave tips on how to be a good author: Be humble and take advice. Be specific and submit to the correct journal. Be on time!

Following the panel session, the participants discussed the importance of explaining peer-review to the public. Victoria Murphy from Sense About Science then strengthened this message by sharing our public guide to miracle cures "I've got nothing to lose by trying it".

Over lunch, participants and panellists chatted further with the editors and each other on how they can get more involved in peer review.

To attend our next peer review workshop to be held at the University of St Andrews on 21st November, email Victoria Murphy.

Articles by participants:

Harriet Groom

Harriet Groom, a career development fellow at the MRC National Institute for Medical research where she studies virus-host interactions, wrote a blog for on Wiley Exchanges Peer review: fundamentals and the future


Fiona Russell

Fiona Russell a post doctoral researcher studying chronic pain, inflammation, and arthritis wrote a blog for BioMed Central: Should there be training for peer reviewers?



Siobhan Dennis

Siobhan Dennis, who works in drug discovery, wrote an article for Taylor & Francis' 'Understanding Peer Review' page: The malleable evolution of peer review




Mounir Adjrad, a post doctoral researcher in biomedical engineering and communications, wrote an article for Elsevier's Editor's Update: An author's experience of peer review


Elizabeth Moylan

One of our panellists, Dr Elizabeth Moylan, wrote an article about the workshop for BioMedCentral  called Are there alternatives to Peer Review?



Peer Review April 2014 Sponsors


With thanks to our partners: BioMed Central, Elsevier, F1000 Research, MRC, PLOS, Sage, Taylor & Francis, Wiley and our host, King's College London 

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  • Top tip 5: If it sounds too good to be true… it probably is.

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