Sunday, January 28, 2018

How do we deal with suspected questionable research practices when reviewing manuscripts?

In the peer review system, science is represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the reviewers, who examine manuscripts, and the associate editors, who publish the articles. These are their stories [1].

I was asked to review a manuscript recently, and as I was reading it, I started to think that the authors had HARKed [2] about half their hypotheses. Although I’ve reviewed manuscripts before, this was the first time I caught the odor of questionable research practices (QRPs). In the interest of preserving the confidentiality of the review process, I’m not going to provide any details about the manuscript and will instead focus on my own experience, which was confusing, somewhat distressing, and led me to consider what reviewers should do when they suspect researchers didn’t do things quite right.