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New James Coyne blog: "Was independent peer review of the PACE trial articles possible?"

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS News' started by Sasha, Nov 25, 2015.

  1. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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  2. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    And if you don't think much of PACE, remember to sign the new petition to stop harms to patients from PACE and other Oxford studies! :cool:
     
  3. A.B.

    A.B. Senior Member

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    Interesting angle to look at it. If I understand it right, Coyne is suggesting that peer review may have been compromised by the large number of people and institutions involved in PACE, which could make it impossible to find independent reviewers from the UK with the needed expertise.

    On several occasions I have also had the impression that researchers in the UK conform to some degree with Wessely school ideas. Even the biomedical researchers seem influenced by it, which is bizarre since the core ideas of the Wessely school are incompatible with a biomedical explanation. Are they doing it because of external pressure and expectations?

    The other thing is that UK researchers don't seem to criticise each other. I don't remember any UK biomedical researcher that has expressed disapproval or disagreement of PACE. Jonathan Edwards seems to be the exception, but maybe that is because he's retired.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2015
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  4. Scarecrow

    Scarecrow Revolting Peasant

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    There was a murky story about Jonathan Kerr failing to get further funding for his genetics work because he had criticised the behavioural research. Who knows what the truth of it was.

    Anyway, he disappeared for a while and resurfaced in Columbia.........and I don't mean the University.
     
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  5. jimells

    jimells Senior Member

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    My impression is that "pal review" is now very common and a prime suspect in the low quality of so much of the published research. And not just in the UK.

    I'm pretty sure our beloved professor has always been a troublemaker. :thumbsup:
     
  6. Jonathan Edwards

    Jonathan Edwards "Gibberish"

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    How did you guess?
     
  7. Aurator

    Aurator Senior Member

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    There's a new James Coyne blog, David Tuller is well and truly on the case, 10,000 signature petitions have been mustered, the NIH is promising changes, so how is it I can still picture Messrs. Wessely, White, Sharpe et al. impassively looking on with folded arms saying "So what?" to it all?

    They know they still hold the whip in their hands, and that it's going to take a lot more than what they've been hit with so far to wrest it from them.
     
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  8. Marco

    Marco Grrrrrrr!

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    Turgid piece I'm afraid. I think he might have been better going after the incestuous communal citations and 'expert commentaries' practised by the BPS crowd.
     
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  9. worldbackwards

    worldbackwards A unique snowflake

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    I have to say I agree. Quite rambly, lots of hypotheticals and little solid fact (which he basically admitted at the end) and seemed to say more than it actually did. I think that there is probably more solid ground to be fighting on than this.
     
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  10. Esther12

    Esther12

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    I think it's good to highlight how the PACE trial can be used as a valuable case study for problem with British mental health research and practice. Beyond the connections discussed here, the informal social connections that glue together British medical researchers is another worry.

    I've seen a few researchers unconnected to CFS directly talking about how they know that the PACE researchers are good and sensible people (so criticism directed at them needs not be paid attention to). When you start looking for connections between different higher-ups it all ends up looking a bit incestuous.

    These might not be the most killer points for us PACE obsessives, but they are important, and I think that if we are going to improve CFS research that's probably going to have to be a part of wider improvements. Also, those researchers whose attention we need (those more interested in pursuing truth than glory) may not be concerned about CFS, but they are likely to be concerned about the issues addressed here. Having Coyne use PACE as a valuable example of wider problems in medical research can only be to our benefit.

    More critically - I did think that there were a couple of paragraph which could have been cut from this. Overall, thought it was good, and great to have it on PACE. Also - genuinely laughed out loud at the idea of giving other researchers an acknowledgement on your paper in order to avoid them in peer review.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2015
  11. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    Is this how we want to be talking about the writing of someone who is trying to help us, guys?

    [Edit - we crossed, @Esther12! I didn't mean you!]

    I actually found it fascinating - it hadn't occurred to me that PACE basically had 38 authors - and some of the names there were worrying to me, in terms of people that I would have hoped were outside of PACE's sphere of influence. And the point that it would have been very hard for PACE to get independent peer review with such a large group of authors and connections involved was well made and convincing, I thought. And the stuff about authorship as currency and the career risks of criticising PACE...very interesting.

    Remember, he's said that he's moving into a phase of talking to other scientists now, and I think they're going to eat this stuff up.
     
  12. John Mac

    John Mac Senior Member

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    Is it possible to find out who the peer reviewers were? or is it all kept secret?
     
  13. Esther12

    Esther12

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    Lancet seems totally secretive on peer review. Annoying.

    tbf, I think Coyne can take it, and we don't need to avoid being critical out of gratitude. At the same time, we can forget how happy we'd have been a month or two ago if Coyne ad written a blog using PACE as an example of worrying research.
     
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  14. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    I expect he can take it but let's at least please think about how we say it, and not say anything in terms that we wouldn't say to his face - bearing in mind that this is an open part of the forum and we may indeed be saying it to his face.
     
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  15. Esther12

    Esther12

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    Us Brits can be overly cautious with rudeness to peoples' face imo!
     
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  16. Dolphin

    Dolphin Senior Member

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    Regarding peer reviewers, I would say one of Bleijenberg and Knoop was probably a peer review of the Lancet (2011) paper. They wrote a commentary on it. Coyne (?) mentioned before that people who write commentaries are often peer-reviewers who asked to write a commentary. Not many other people would have seen the paper in advance (the most likely other way they might have seen it would be if the PACE investigators passed the paper over to them which is also a bit incestuous).

    Also, in the case of the PACE Trial, the peer review process was fast-tracked, so even less time for people not involved in the peer review process to write about it.

    It would be interesting if Bleijenberg/Knoop suggested the normal range data when acting as peer reviewers as they focused a lot on that in the commentary.
     
  17. A.B.

    A.B. Senior Member

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    Does it matter who it was exactly? We know they failed. The reason for this was probably that they were aligned with Wessely school ideology. There doesn't seem to be a shortage of Wessely school believers in psych departments.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2015
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  18. Bob

    Bob

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    Coyne is writing for a general scientific audience - not just us. His audience is interested in bad academic practice in general, and he is illustrating the subject by using PACE as an example of bad practice in academic publishing. I think it's better that he keeps his wider audience engaged by not only focusing on the nitty gritty of PACE, but to also use it to illustrate general discussions. He's just getting started with PACE - he's got other stuff planned - so let him develop his strategy in his way.

    BTW, I agree with Sasha. We should assume that Coyne will read this thread. So keep comments constructive. We don't want him to think we are ungrateful just because we made a throw-away comment thinking it was private.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2015
  19. Dolphin

    Dolphin Senior Member

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    The reviewers who really messed up in my mind were those on the recovery paper.
     
  20. BurnA

    BurnA Senior Member

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    It matters for accountability.
    If everyone was held accountable for their actions and words we wouldn't be in this mess.

    We can name and shame in the hope that others will be dissuaded from performing sloppy work.
     
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