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Plant Science Panel

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'The Ugly Truth'

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Peer review China

A Chinese guide to peer review

Chinese translation of I Don’t Know What to Believe: a guide to peer review to help the public make sense of research claims.

Chinese guide

We hear all kinds of claims in newspapers and on the internet that are based on scientific studies. When faced with a headline that suggests genetically modified corn causes infertility or an Alzheimer’s drug increases the risk of heart attack, people have to work out what to believe. Which claims should be taken seriously? Which are ‘scares’?

I Don’t Know What to Believe: Making Sense of Science Stories... explains the peer review process – the system researchers use to assess the validity, significance and originality of papers. It captures experiences and insights from editors and scientists and encourages people to ask “Is it peer reviewed?” when reading science stories. 

This public guide to peer review has been translated into Chinese by the journalist Yue Yaun, and is being hosted on, a Chinese information site.

The peer review system plays an important role in ensuring the scholarly record is as sound as possible. Whilst China’s contribution to global peer review is still small, 85% of Chinese researchers’ questioned in a 2009 survey1 saw peer review as an important part of improving the quality of research papers and 90% saw it as greatly helping scientific communication.

Understanding peer review and asking about the status of claims is important to society because it helps people make decisions.

The Chinese edition is based on the original UK edition available here.

Download the guide here.

Read the Chinese press release here.

This guide has been produced and distributed with sponsorship and help from: Elsevier, Public Library of Science, Taylor & Francis Group and Wiley 



Elsevier ConnectChinese guide to peer review aims to help public make sense of science claims 

Wiley ExchangesHelping Chinese citizens make sense of science 

Yue Yuan's blog, Soil Motorcycle diaries: I do not know what to believe 

You can read a Storify of the tweets surrounding the launch.


Yue Yuan, Editor, San Lian Life Weekly: “China is changing rapidly toward a new era. Many new thoughts and special-interest groups are trying to win over public support.  A lot of movie and sport stars have much more power over public opinion than before. In this confusing time, it is even more important to be able to separate fact from fiction. This guide is a good start. The peer review system can make mistakes but it is the most reliable quality-control system by far. You will be less likely to make mistakes if you trust the peer review system, rather than your own gut feeling, or the politicians or individual scholars.” 

Lai Xu, Chief Editor, “The ability to read scientific papers is a required skill for science reporters. One of the most important jobs of a science reporter is to inform the public about the peer review system so they can weigh up the meaning and significance of scientific papers.”

Tracey Brown, Managing Director of Sense About Science: “We congratulate Chinese writers on the launch of I Don’t Know What To Believe today. It explains that the status of research findings is as important as the findings themselves. This understanding has the capacity to improve the decisions we make across all of society.”

1Results from the 2009 Peer Review Survey: Sense About Science, with support from Elsevier carried out one of the largest ever peer review surveys of over 4000 authors and reviewers: