The hidden side of clinical trials

Watch the AllTrials TEDx talk on YouTube

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Evidence matters to the public

Join us on 1st November at Parliament to make the case

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Plant Science Panel

Insecticides, biofuels, GMOs …

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'The Ugly Truth'

by Tracey Brown, director of Sense About Science

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Peer Review: The Nuts & Bolts - September 2015

For the second peer review: the nuts & bolts workshop of 2015, we travelled to Glasgow Caledonian University on 17th September. We were joined by a panel of experts and early career researchers (ECRs) from all sciences, engineering and medicine to discuss the process of peer review and how to get involved. 

The workshop began with group work, where the 45 participants discussed the pros and cons of peer review and what publishing would look like without it. Most of the ECRs felt that although peer review was a central component to science, they had concerns about bias against negative results, inconsistencies between different journals and how the system can sometimes be exploited.

Peer review VoYS groupwork

The panel session began with publisher Malavika Legge discussing what the peer review system is and its purpose in scientific publishing. She mentioned that although the mechanics of it are simple, how peer review is actually carried out differs between different publishers as well as between different  individual journals. Professor Martijn Steultjens shared his experience of the process as an experienced reviewer and author of papers. He outlined how he makes decisions about which papers should be published - by looking for the 'spine' of the paper - and how he uses this to advise editors of its validity and relevance. The editor's perspective was provided by Professor Sergio Della Sela who explained to the audience how difficult it can be to find reviewers and encouraged all ECRs to get involved as "the system only works if scientists make it work".

VoYS peer review panel session

The following discussion included engaging questions from the participants about the value of ORCID ID, the effectiveness of pre-registration review, how publishers find reviewers and how to counteract known publication biases. The audience also fed back their thoughts from group discussions about the value of peer review for members of the public.

Glasgow peer review workshop

The workshop concluded with Joanne Thomas describing the three different streams of work that Sense About Science uses to help bring peer review to the public, and how it can be a useful tool to help make sense of science and evidence. More information about these projects: 2 public guides and our public campaign can be explored here: I don’t know what to believe, I’ve got nothing to lose by trying it and Ask for Evidence

VoYS peer review workshop



You can see more photos from the day here.

 Articles by participants

Mariana ArrojaMariana Arroja is a third year PhD student at the University of Glasgow, studying the potential neuroprotective effects of Angiotensin-(1-7) following experimental stroke. She wrote a summary of the day for the Biochemical Society's blog

Adam Field graduated from Newcastle University in Biomedical Sciences in 2013, before working at AstraZeneca for two years in Oncology. He recently joined Prof Peter Adams group at CRUK Beatson Institute where he’s currently studying for his PhD looking at age-related epigenetic changes and cancer. He wrote a piece about the workshop for F1000research.

Scott Nicholson

Scott Nicholson is a former NHS medical microbiologist who is currently in his final year of a PhD at the University of the West of Scotland, studying proteinase activated receptor 2 on B lymphocytes in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. He wrote about the workshop for workshop partner Taylor & Francis here.

Stuart McMillanStuart McMillan is a final year Ph.D student at the University of Stirling studying the use of the wax moth caterpillar, Galleria Mellonella, as an alternative infection model to study fish pathogen virulence. Stuart wrote about the workshop on SAGE Connection


With thanks to our partners: 

Taylor & Francis, Elsevier, SAGE, Wiley, F1000 Research, BioMed Central, Portland Press and PRE (Peer Review Evaluation). 

London 2015 partners

And thanks to our host: Glasgow Caledonian University

GCU logo (high res)

VoYS pinboard

  • Top tip 1: Ask for Evidence. If you’re being sold a product or asked to believe a claim then you deserve to know whether it’s based on evidence – or imagination.

  • Top tip 2: Detox. It’s a marketing myth – our body does it without pricey potions and detox diets.

  • Top tip 3: Superfood. There is no such thing, just foods that are high in some nutrients.

  • Top tip 4: Cleansing. You shouldn’t be trying to cleanse anything other than your skin or hair.

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

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