Speed and Transparency in Scientific Research Will Help Save Dollars and Lives – Innovation Insights
"Despite moving from paper to pixels, the publication of scientific research has until now not yet harnessed the full potential of the Internet. In January, researchers from Japan announced in Nature that they had produced induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) by bathing somatic cells in acid. Other researchers were sceptical of these claims, and tried to reproduce the work. One of those scientists, Kenneth Lee of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, liveblogged his attempt which has recently been published in open science journal F1000Research. Lee's paper reveals the full experimental results of an attempt to replicate a controversial study. With systematically collected and fully available data, Lee and his colleagues report that carefully replicating the original acid-treatment method does not induce stem cells. As is the standard operating procedure of F1000Research, Professor Lee’s paper was published online after an editorial check, before being sent to invited peer reviewers. Within two weeks of publishing, two stem cell scientists submitted their formal peer review reports, and these reports, as well as comments by other readers and the full data set associated with the work are freely available to any online reader. The original Nature paper that has proved so controversial was also peer reviewed, but the reviewers were anonymous and their reports are kept behind closed doors. The underlying data of the work was also not available to see. Nature is not unique in this opacity; it is how the vast majority of journals approach publishing and reviewing papers. This is not just an esoteric exercise in the halls of the science academy; it has important implications for the general public. Publishing results quickly and ensuring that all the vital information surrounding the paper is openly available will help combat the frequent shortfalls of the traditional journal model. Studies that become contentious after they are published can linger in the scientific literature for too long before the work is eventually retracted, or other scientists are able to confirm or refute the results. A fast and fully transparent approach will help save millions of dollars in wasted and unnecessary effort, not to mention the ability to potentially save lives ..."