Category Archives: Data

Should reviewers be expected to review supporting datasets and code?

by John Helliwell, Emeritus Professor of Chemistry University of Manchester and DSc Physics University of York (@HelliwellJohn)

Introduction

For the meeting entitled “Transparency, Reward, and Innovation in Peer Review in the Life Sciences” to be held on Feb. 7-9, 2018 at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, Maryland (http://asapbio.org/peer-review) I have been asked by The Wellcome Trust to open the discussion on the question in my title.

In my view peer reviewing research article submissions to journals is arguably one of the most important roles we scientists play.  Through this process we seek to improve the research of our peers, highlighting errors and omissions and work to ensure that scientifically flawed research does not get published.  To perform this work effectively however – especially in our new data-driven age – it is crucial that peer reviewers are given unfettered access to the data and code underlying the research we are reviewing.  Unfortunately, while many journals provide access to this data after an article’s publication,* most journals do not provide access to this material during the refereeing process, making it almost impossible to perform an effective peer review function.

In this blog post I will discuss why peer review of the  underpinning data of a research article is important – using examples from the my field of crystallography – and outline some steps which funders and publishers could take to implement peer review of data.  Continue reading