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The Role of Peer Review in Informed Decision-making

The 2016 Meeting of the AIBS Council of Member Societies
and Organizations

December 6, 2016
AIBS Washington, DC Office
1201 New York Avenue, NW, 4th Floor
Washington, DC 20005

graphic The scientific community often discusses the importance of research and education for improving the human condition through the creation of new knowledge, informed decision-making, and the development of new applications that enhance human health, environmental management, and food security. It is with less frequency that we consider the elements of the scientific process that stimulate or hinder these outcomes.

The peer review process is considered by most to be an important tool for identifying quality science. It is through our community standards and review practices that we identify important work, sleuth out the rare--but present--huckster, and fuel the engines that power the creation of new knowledge. Despite our reliance on peer review, the factors that influence the process and its outcomes are not well understood. When it comes to scientific peer review, few scholarly reviews of the factors that influence decision-making have been published. Recently, some studies have revealed that some published findings are not reproducible or rely on inappropriate statistical measures. Importantly, this lack of information has led some lawmakers to question the validity of peer review.

The American Institute of Biological Sciences is convening a meeting of leaders from scientific societies and research organizations, journal publishing and editing, the academe, funding organizations, industry, and government for a dialog that will improve our collective understanding of the state of peer review. The meeting will also likely generate recommendations for further actions by the scientific community.

This workshop-style meeting will consider the following overarching questions:
  1. Do we know what we need to know about peer review?
  2. Does peer review meet the needs of the modern publication system?
  3. How effectively does peer review identify the best research proposals?
  4. Is peer review properly incentivized and are reviewers being asked to evaluate the right things?
A meeting report with recommendations for how the assembled stakeholder groups might collectively address common questions and concerns related to the peer review of research proposals and scientific publications will be published. The report will be shared with the scientific and science policy communities. Additional outcomes may include a briefing for policymakers, a working group, recommendations for novel research on peer review, and recommendations for best practices.

About AIBS

The American Institute of Biological Sciences is a national scientific organization dedicated to informing decision-making that advances biology for the benefit of science and society.

The American Institute of Biological Sciences is a recognized national leader on issues related to scientific peer review. For more than 50 years, AIBS has conducted peer review for its highly respected journal, BioScience, as well as for governmental and non-governmental research funding organizations. AIBS staff researchers conduct and publish novel research and analyses of peer review processes used to inform funding decisions. AIBS public policy programs are at the forefront of community-wide efforts to promote the appropriate use of peer review in policymaking, as well as to protect the independence of the scientific process from political interference.

The American Institute of Biological Sciences is a non-profit scientific organization based in Reston, VA, with a public policy office in Washington, DC. The organization has an individual and institutional membership that represents the breadth of the biological sciences and includes nearly 160 scientific societies and research organizations with more than 200,000 members and staff.

A summary report was released in February 2017. Read the report.

Event Partners
ASP Burke and Associates Burroughs Wellcome Fund Doris Duke Charitable Foundation graphic

Event Sponsors

The Role of Peer Review in Informed Decision-making

Tuesday, December 6, 2016
AIBS Washington DC Offices, Conference Room A/B/C
1201 New York Avenue, 4th Floor, Washington, DC 20005


Meeting Questions
  1. Do we know what we need to know about peer review?
  2. Does peer review meet the needs of the modern publication system?
  3. How effectively does peer review identify the best research proposals?
  4. Is peer review properly incentivized and are reviewers asked to evaluate the right things?

(Names are for planning purposes, not invited or confirmed)
9:00 Opening Remarks
Dr. Joseph Travis, AIBS President, Florida State University
9:15 Peer Review: Past and Present
Speaker: Dr. Drummond Rennie, Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, UCSF. Director, the International Congresses on Peer Review and Scientific Publication.
10:30Panel Discussion: Perspectives from Funders and Publishers
Moderator: Scott Glisson, AIBS
Dr. Richard Nakamura, Director of Scientific Review, NIH
Ms. Fiona Williams, Senior Publisher, Oxford University Press
Mr. Charles "Kolo" Rathburn, Senior Professional Staff, U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies -- Invited
Dr. Betsy Myers, Director of Medical Research, Doris Duke Charitable Trust
11:15Group Discussion
1:00 Quantifying Peer Review
Dr. Stephen Gallo, AIBS
1:20 Panel Discussion:
Community Perspectives: Insights from Scientists and Scholars of Peer Review
Moderator: Lisa Thompson, AIBS
Dr. Lou Burnett, President-elect, Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology
Dr. Carole J. Lee, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Affiliate Faculty to the Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences at the University of Washington, Seattle
Dr. John Hawdon, Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Tropical and Topical Medicine, The George Washington University
2:00 Group Discussion
Moderator: Scott Glisson, AIBS
2:20 Break
2:30 Breakout Groups
3:45 Breakout Groups Report Out
4:15 Recommendations, Opportunities for Action
Moderator: Dr. Robert Gropp, AIBS
5:00 Adjourn

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