Friday, February 8, 2008

A librarian moment

I just have to post for my own thought process on a current professional issue. The peer-reviewed journal Proteomics has an epub advance version of an article which purports to portray "Mitochondria, the missing link between body and soul: Proteomic prospective evidence." Now not only is there question about the level of peer review which went into this, given the poor science portrayed in the abstract, it turns out thanks to some checking by online readers that there is significant plagiarism.

As a medical librarian, I can only hope that the publishers will take a long hard look at this. Was adequate review performed? By whom? Did the authors send a different version to the publisher from what was sent for review? On whose authority? Will the article be retracted? On what grounds? What process failed here, exactly?

Medical literature is only as good as it's proven to be. We cannot make use of material we need to second guess. Librarians depend upon the peer review process to ensure that material we disseminate for clinician and researcher use is up to basic standards of science and publishing. If journals are not doing an adequate job of publishing only science which meets basic standards of practice, we will need to find a new medium of information reporting and management. Up until now the medical journal model has served well; it's up to the publishers of Proteomics to ensure it continues to do so.

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