Peer review in scientific publications - Science and Technology Committee Contents

Supplementary written evidence submitted by Faculty of 1000 (PR 94a)

What measures does F1000 take to ensure that evaluations aren't biased? (for example, how do you ensure that they aren't carried out by people too close either professionally or personally to the author?)

F1000 recognises the potential for bias within our systems and we are always working to add new approaches to try and eliminate this as much as is practically possible. So for example, we would never let a Faculty Member evaluate one of their own papers. We also go much further than this and are currently adding a specific declaration that every Faculty Member must confirm for every evaluation that states: "This work has been selected for evaluation entirely on its scientific merit. Neither I nor my co-evaluators (where applicable) have collaborated with the authors in the past year or been influenced in the selection of this work directly or indirectly by the author/s or by any third party. This evaluation presents my opinions and those of any listed co-evaluators."

Additionally, Faculty Members must declare any competing interests, which includes non-financial competing interests (see below for the specific details). Any declared conflicts are assessed by F1000 as to whether the evaluation might lead a reasonable person to question the impartiality of the writer. These declarations are displayed alongside their evaluation. For example, we recently had an issue where a Faculty Member evaluated a paper and declared a competing interest that stated that the authors of the paper they were evaluating were in the same lab as them, but that they had no input into the paper. Based on this, we rejected the evaluation as we consider this association to be too close for impartiality not to be called into question.

As all the names of the evaluators are always openly displayed against the evaluation, this additionally reduces the likelihood that Faculty Members will select articles where there is some bias in the selection as usually this would be fairly obvious to those in the field. Furthermore, external Section Heads (who are responsible for suggesting who are appropriate as Faculty Members) are asked to keep an eye on the content within their Sections, and we have our Heads of Faculty and an International Advisory Board to advise us on these issues. Finally, our internal Editors monitor every submission before it goes live, keeping an eye on possible biases.


What do we mean by Competing interest?

We ask that Faculty Members declare both "Non-Financial" and "Financial" Competing Interests. For every submission (i.e. an evaluation or dissenting opinion) on which they select the "Competing interest to declare" option, they must provide sufficient details (in the textbox provided) to enable the F1000 Editorial team to assess whether their evaluation might lead a reasonable person to question their impartiality. These declarations are displayed alongside their evaluation.

It might be helpful to consider the following examples, but please note that this is not an exhaustive list:

Examples of "Non-Financial Competing Interests"

1) Within the past 4 years, the Faculty Members has held joint grants, published or collaborated with any of the authors of the selected paper.

2) The Faculty Member has a close personal relationship (e.g. parent, spouse, sibling, or domestic partner) with any of the authors.

3) The Faculty Member has a close professional associate of any of the authors (e.g. scientific mentor, recent student).

4) The Faculty Member works at the same institute as any of the authors.

5) The Faculty Members hopes/expects to benefit (e.g. favour or employment) as a result of your submission.

6) If submitting a Dissenting opinion: The Faculty Member has a longstanding disagreement with any of the authors.

Examples of "Financial Competing Interests"

1) The Faculty Member expects to receive, or in the past 4 years have received, any of the following from commercial organizations that may gain financially from their submission: a salary, fees, funding or reimbursements.

2) The Faculty Member holds, or is currently applying for, any patents or significant stocks/shares relating to the subject matter of the paper they are evaluating.

If you believe these criteria have not been met and have noticed specific instances of abuse, please contact our editorial office.

By Rebecca Lawrence, Director New Product Development, F1000

On behalf of Faculty of 1000 Ltd

June 2011


Rebecca Lawrence is an employee of Faculty of 1000 Ltd

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© Parliamentary copyright 2011
Prepared 28 July 2011