The written projects for this course will require you to familiarize yourself with a journal in a field of scholarly research. For each project submit via e-mail (about 100 to 200 words) two weeks in advance of the project due date a proposal outlining specifically how you will respond to the guidelines of the project option.


Project 1: Profile (750 - 1000 words)

This project will give you an opportunity to explore the profile of a specific journal. Select a peer-reviewed research journal in your field of interest, and look through several recent issues. Then, scan the journal's website for more information about its mission, culture, and publication guidelines. Try to identify the key players who work and contribute to the journal: editors, reviewers, authors, and financiers. Use these questions to guide your research:

When you have a firm sense of the answers to these questions, write a descriptive profile of the journal. Be sure to illustrate all of your observations with specific details.


Project 2: Analysis (2000 - 2500 words)

Examine the scenario for one of the following incidents concerning scholarly peer review. Collect as much additional information about the case as you can (e.g., related research papers, scientific editorials, general news coverage, regulatory and judicial transcripts, etc.). After surveying your data, find one salient issue about the peer review process that arises. Then, review the papers about peer review that we've read in this course, and select one that seems to address this issue.Reread this paper and try to extract its methodology. Use that methodology to conduct your own analysis of the issue as it is revealed in the literature you have collected.


Peer Review in the News

Monsanto Enlists "Fake Persuaders"--Nature issued a retraction of a research paper after a PR firm did some viral marketing on behalf of Monsanto.

The United States Department of Health and Human Services panders to American food companies--The food industry disputed the W.H.O.'s report called "The Expert Consultation on Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases," which suggested among other things limits on sugar consumption.

U.S. Congress condemns Research on Sex--Congress in 1999 voted unanimously to denounce a research article that concluded victims of childhood sexual abuse did not suffer long-term damage.

A pivotal paper linking vaccines and autism is retracted.--Lancet officially retracted a 1998 study, by gastroenterologist Dr. Andrew Wakefieldthat that implied childhood vaccines can cause autism.

Climate sceptics claim leaked emails are evidence of collusion among scientists--Emails and documents exchanged between world's leading climate scientists suggest their peer-review process has been compromised.

Korean Scientist Said to Admit Fabrication in a Cloning Study--The peer reviewers for the research journal Science accepted the Hwang paper without finding any problems.