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Complement Ther Med. 1999 Mar;7(1):19-23.

Reviewer bias against the unconventional? A randomized double-blind study of peer review.

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  • 1University of Exeter, Department of Complementary Medicine, UK.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To test the hypothesis that there is a reviewer bias against publication of a test of an unconventional drug.

DESIGN:

Randomized, controlled, double-blind study of peer review.

PARTICIPANTS:

Convenience sample of 291 medical doctors from a wide variety of specialties drawn from a list of conference participants.

METHODS:

Reviewers were randomly assigned to receive one of two versions of a manuscript. Version M related to an in-vitro experiment on a mainstream drug (Metoprolol). The otherwise identical version V used a highly unconventional drug (beef spleen cell extract) for the same experiment. Reviewers were asked to complete a standardised evaluation sheet including visual analogue scales (VASs) on a set of predefined quality criteria. All participants were debriefed after completion of the study.

RESULTS:

The response rate was 61%. There were no significant differences in VAS ratings between the two versions of the manuscript. Ratings covered the entire range of the VASs.

CONCLUSION:

In the present setting, there was no evidence for a reviewer-bias against testing an unconventional drug. The low inter-rater reliability, however, suggested inadequate validity of peer review.

PMID:
10361567
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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