IN RECENT years, scientists and editors of scientific journals have often noted how few hard data exist on the workings of editorial peer review. Although pressures from inside and out increasingly encourage journals to be more explicit about their practices and more inclined to question their own habits, there is still a good deal of truth in the sardonic observation made 5 years ago that "the arbiters of rigor, quality, and innovativeness in publishing scientific work do not apply to their own work the standards they apply in judging the work of others."1 This paradox inspired The First International Congress on Peer Review in Biomedical Publication, with its goal of encouraging the systematic and empirical study of journals.
Of course, data and rigorous methods are not enough to make a science. The systematic study of peer review is even more deficient in theory than it is in data. Some
Knoll E. The Communities of Scientists and Journal Peer Review. JAMA. 1990;263(10):1330-1332. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440100030004