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Editorial
September 16, 2019

The Ninth International Congress on Peer Review and Scientific Publication: A Call for Research

Author Affiliations
  • 1Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford, Stanford University, Stanford, California
  • 2Meta-Research Innovation Center–Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  • 3JAMA and the JAMA Network, Chicago, Illinois
  • 4BMJ, London, England
JAMA. Published online September 16, 2019. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.15516

The quantity and quality of scientific research have never been greater, but with unprecedented promise comes unprecedented peril. There are better scientific policies and processes, stronger standards for openness and transparency, and innovative technologies to collaborate and publish. However, the rapidly evolving scientific publication ecosystem that facilitates research dissemination also enables research waste, predation, and piracy. The challenge of distinguishing information from noise, innovation from dystopianlike disruption, and opportunity from threat has created new levels of excitement and angst for those engaged in research and its reporting, publication, and distribution.

In these historically challenging circumstances, we announce the Ninth International Congress on Peer Review and Scientific Publication,1 which will take place September 12-14, 2021, in Chicago, Illinois. Since the very first Congress in 1989, founded by Drummond Rennie,2 the aim has been to encourage research into the quality and credibility of peer review and scientific publication. The goal is to strengthen the evidence base so that all those involved in science (including but not limited to researchers, editors, publishers, funders, policy makers, academics, and representatives of universities, industry, media, and the general public) can improve the conduct, reporting, and dissemination of scientific research.1

A few core principles and practices have governed past Congresses and the next one announced here.3 The Congresses provide a forum for research into the processes of selection, refinement, and dissemination of scientific knowledge. They do not presume to establish rules governing publication, settle matters by consensus, or dictate how scientists and journal editors should conduct themselves. The Congress program is democratic, mostly determined by abstracts submitted by researchers, so it represents the work of the community, with priority given to data-driven studies. And there are no simultaneous breakout or parallel sessions so all attendees can hear every presentation and participate in every discussion, and the audience is given equal time to debate the presentations. Past feedback from participants identifies this democratic format as one of the keys to the success of the Congresses.3

For the Ninth Congress, we call for new studies into the processes used by researchers, authors, editors, peer reviewers, publishers, funders, universities, and any other stakeholders to improve the conduct, reporting, quality, integrity, and dissemination of scientific research and academic commentary. We encourage new ideas and rigorous evaluations of both old and new processes. Examples include evaluations of the quality of scientific reporting and publication, and developments in open and collaborative peer review, pre- and postpublication public review, open and public access, data sharing and access, reproducibility of methods and research findings, fair and reliable metrics of publication, and transparent reporting of author contributions, conflicts, and biases. Studies of bias—of all sorts—and how biases can be identified and managed are of particular interest. In addition, many problems threatening the credibility of science, such as research misconduct, deviation from authorship norms, conflicts of interest (financial or other), inadequate ethical oversight of research, misuse of statistical tests and analyses, sloppy reporting of research findings, and misleading information in news and social media coverage of research, are still in need of effective evidence-based solutions. We also seek to shed light on looming dangers from dishonest opportunists and rogue operators who threaten the foundation of the scientific enterprise. For each of these problems and threats, potential solutions and interventions need testing.

The Peer Review Congress began with a focus on biomedicine but in recent years has broadened its scope to include health sciences, basic sciences, and the full spectrum of social and physical sciences. We plan to continue this expansion to all sciences. Much exciting work and debate on how to improve scientific research are happening outside biomedicine. Breaking the communication barriers across disciplines may offer the greatest potential for change and tangible improvements.

The Peer Review Congress is organized and supported by JAMA and the JAMA Network, the BMJ, and the Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford (METRICS). We are also supported by the members of our advisory board representing a wide variety of scientific disciplines (Box 1).

Box Section Ref ID
Box 1.

Organizers and Advisory Board

Congress Directors
  • John P. A. Ioannidis, MD, DSc

Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford (METRICS)

Stanford, California, USA

  • Michael Berkwits, MD, MSCE

JAMA and the JAMA Network

Chicago, Illinois, USA

Congress Executive Director
  • Annette Flanagin, RN, MA

JAMA and the JAMA Network

Chicago, Illinois, USA

European Director
  • Fiona Godlee, MBBChir, FRCP

BMJ

London, England

European Coordinator
  • Theodora Bloom, PhD

BMJ

London, England

Associate Directors
  • Steve Goodman, MD, MHS, PhD

Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford (METRICS)

Stanford, California, USA

  • Véronique Kiermer, PhD

PLOS

San Francisco, California, USA

  • David Moher, MSc, PhD

Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Director Emeritus
  • Drummond Rennie, MD

University of California, San Francisco

San Francisco, California, USA

Advisory Board Members
  • Vivienne Bachelet, MD, MSc

Medwave

Universidad de Santiago de Chile

Santiago, Chile

  • Albert-László Barabási, PhD

Northeastern University

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

  • Howard Bauchner, MD

JAMA and the JAMA Network

Chicago, Illinois, USA

  • Lisa A. Bero, PhD

The University of Sydney

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

  • Patrick M. Bossuyt, PhD

University of Amsterdam

Amsterdam, the Netherlands

  • Lex Bouter, PhD

Vrije University

Amsterdam, the Netherlands

  • Isabelle Boutron, MD, PhD

French Cochrane Center

Paris, France

  • Edward W. Campion, MD

New England Journal of Medicine

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

  • An-Wen Chan, MD, DPhil

University of Toronto

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

  • Kay Dickersin, PhD

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Baltimore, Maryland, USA

  • Dan Evanko, PhD

American Association for Cancer Research

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

  • James Evans, PhD

The University of Chicago

Chicago, Illinois, USA

  • Trish Groves, MBBS, MRCPsych

BMJ

London, England

  • R. Brian Haynes, MD, PhD

McMaster University Faculty of Health Sciences

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

  • Sabine Kleinert, MD

The Lancet

London, England

  • Christine Laine, MD, MPH

Annals of Internal Medicine

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

  • José Florencio F. Lapeña Jr, MA, MD

University of the Philippines

Manila, Philippines

  • Malcolm MacLeod, MBChB, PhD

The University of Edinburgh

Edinburgh, Scotland

  • Emilie Marcus, PhD

University of California, Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California, USA

  • Ana Marušić, MD, PhD

Journal of Global Health

Zagreb, Croatia

  • Frank Miedema, PhD

University Medical Center Utrecht

Utrecht, the Netherlands

  • Jigisha Patel, MRCP, PhD

BioMed Central, Springer Nature

London, England

  • David Schriger, MD, MPH

University of California, Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California, USA

  • Victoria Stodden, PhD

University of Illinois

Champaign, Illinois, USA

  • Deborah Sweet, PhD

Cell Press

Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

  • Martin R. Tramèr, MD, DPhil

European Journal of Anaesthesiology

Geneva, Switzerland

  • Sarah Tegen, PhD

American Chemical Society

Washington, DC, USA

  • Valda Vinson, PhD

Science

Washington, DC, USA

  • Erik Von Elm, MD

Cochrane Switzerland

Lausanne, Switzerland

  • Eric-Jan Wagenmakers, PhD

University of Amsterdam

Amsterdam, the Netherlands

  • Rebecca Williams, PharmD, MPH

National Library of Medicine

Bethesda, Maryland, USA

With 2 years to go, we encourage you to start your research now for the Ninth Congress. Abstracts summarizing original, high-quality research on any aspect of scientific peer review and publication and the conduct, reporting, assessment, and dissemination of scientific research are welcome. Topics of interest include those listed in Box 2, but we will consider any relevant novel work and welcome a range of study designs, including controlled trials and observational studies, systematic reviews and meta-analyses, bibliometric analyses, surveys, and modeling studies. As with previous Congresses, well-designed studies that build on previous knowledge and test or evaluate processes, policies, and interventions are preferred. We will give priority to studies with more generalizable results (eg, prospective, multiyear trials and controlled studies from collaborations among researchers, journals, publishers, funders, and information disseminators) and those that report original research.

Box Section Ref ID
Box 2.

Suggested Topics of Interest for Research Into Peer Review and Scientific Publication

Bias
  • Bias on the part of researchers, authors, reviewers, editors, funders, commentators, and consumers of scientific information

  • Publication and reporting bias

  • Efforts to manage or eliminate bias in research methods, conduct and reporting, and interpretation of evidence

Editorial and Peer Review Decision-making and Responsibilities
  • Models of peer review and editorial decision-making and workflows used by journals, funders, and research disseminators

  • Evaluations of the quality, validity, and practicality of peer review and editorial decision-making

  • Quality assurance for reviewers, editors, and funders

  • Editorial policies and responsibilities

  • Editorial freedom and integrity

  • Peer review of grant proposals

Research and Publication Ethics
  • Ethical concerns for researchers, authors, reviewers, editors, publishers, and funders

  • Authorship, contributorship, accountability, and responsibility for published material

  • Conflicts of interest

  • Research and publication misconduct

  • Ethical review and approval of studies

  • Confidentiality

  • Effects of funding and sponsorship on research and publication

  • Influence of external stakeholders: funders, journal owners, advertisers/sponsors, policy makers, legal representatives, and the news media

  • Effects of opportunistic, predatory, and pirate operators

Improving the Quality of Reporting
  • Effectiveness of guidelines and standards designed to improve the quality of scientific reporting and publication

  • Evaluations of the quality of published information

  • Data sharing, transparency, reliability, and access

  • Research reproducibility

  • Innovations to improve appropriate use of methods and statistics

  • Quality and reliability of data presentation and scientific images

  • Quality and effectiveness of new formats for scientific articles

Models for Peer Review and Scientific Publication
  • Open and public access

  • Single-blind, double-blind, collaborative, and open peer review

  • Preprints and prepublication posting and release of information

  • Reanalyses

  • Reproducibility checks

  • Preregistration of research

  • Embargoes

  • Postpublication review, communications, and influence

  • Effects of social media

  • Changes in readership and usage of peer-reviewed published content

  • Quality and effects of scientific information in multimedia and new media

  • Quality, use, and effects of publication and performance metrics and usage statistics

  • Quality and influence of advertising and sponsored publication

  • Quality and effectiveness of content tagging, markup, and linking

  • Use of assisted artificial intelligence and software to improve editorial review and peer review

  • Threats to scientific publication

  • The future of scientific publication

Dissemination of Scientific and Scholarly Information
  • Methods for improving the quality, efficiency, and equitable distribution of scientific information

  • Use of novel mechanisms, formats, and platforms to disseminate science

  • New technologies that affect the quality, integrity, evaluation, dissemination, and access of scientific information

  • Funding and reward systems as they relate to science and scientific publication

  • Comparisons of and lessons from various scientific disciplines

  • Mapping of scientific methods and reporting practices and of meta-research across disciplines

The deadline for abstract submission is January 2021. Programs and abstracts of research presented at the previous 8 Congresses are available on the Peer Review Congress website.1 Additional information and future announcements will be available on the website, where you can also sign up for email alerts.

We look forward to your contributions to the Ninth International Congress on Peer Review and Scientific Publication.

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Annette Flanagin, RN, MA, JAMA and the JAMA Network, 330 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60611 (annette.flanagin@jamanetwork.org).

Published Online: September 16, 2019. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.15516

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: All authors serve as directors or coordinators of the Peer Review Congress. Ms Flanagin reports serving as an unpaid board member for STM: International Association of Scientific, Technical, and Medical Publishers. Dr Bloom reports being a founder of medRxiv. No other disclosures were reported.

Simultaneous Publication: A version of this Editorial is being simultaneously published in JAMA and the BMJ.

References
1.
International Congress on Peer Review and Scientific Publication. https://peerreviewcongress.org/index.html. Accessed August 6, 2019.
2.
Rennie  D.  Guarding the guardians: a conference on editorial peer review.  JAMA. 1986;256(17):2391-2392. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380170107031PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
3.
Rennie  D, Flanagin  A.  Three decades of Peer Review Congresses.  JAMA. 2018;319(4):350-353. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.20606PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
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