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November 7, 1986

Guarding the Guardians: A Conference on Editorial Peer Review

Author Affiliations

Rush Medical School Chicago West Suburban Hospital Medical Center Oak Park, Ill

JAMA. 1986;256(17):2391-2392. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380170107031

What do we have here? A terse American, a terser Briton, and a positively gushing Latin? Or three scientists, two of whom are plagiarizing the third? It is more likely that these three were merely stating the obvious: that as no one knows research has occurred unless its results are published, publication is central to the research enterprise.

If they could have seen what progress would be made in the scientific technologies, each of these three might have anticipated that their successors would have subjected the operations of the biomedical literature to searching inquiry. The system has improved and expanded to include many thousands of journals and an efficient apparatus for indexing and retrieving their contents. Yet, while there are fine descriptive studies of the system, inquiries have so far failed to deal adequately with its most crucial part, peer review—the process by which scientists evaluate each others' work to

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