The whistle-blowing article by Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman recounts how the author was approached to serve as the front author on a manuscript already written by a “medical education company” on behalf of a pharmaceutical company. The manuscript purported to be a review of interactions between warfarin and herbal remedies. The manuscript was provided to Dr. Fugh-Berman in essentially complete form, with her name on the first page as first author... the apparent goal of the manuscript was to disparage warfarin, the drug with which the pharmaceutical company’s new product would compete.
For every whistleblower, who knows how many pharm efforts succeeded? Also, Capsules has thoughts on the rise of pay-for-print -- when journals require authors to pay the printing costs. Often, if the authors can't afford it, their paper doesn't get printed. She wonders about conflicts of interest:
[I]s this really more of a conflict than traditional advertisers pose? I tend to think yes, since we're conditioned to be skeptical about ads, but tend to trust what looks like a well-researched article.
And finally, in what may or may not be a well-researched article, the Onion reports on viscious peer-review process among 10 year-olds:
Panel members said Nogroski's work contained an alarming number of invalidated claims and irrelevant findings. They were particularly disconcerted by the figures in Nogroski's third paragraph, which begins "How do otters survive? Here are some facts about that."
"He didn't even say how they survive," Glass said. "He was just like, 'Otters are about one to 1.2 meters long. Otters' whiskers are about three inches long.'"
"I know!" Swain said. "It's like, 'Hey Mike, how do sea otters survive?' 'Dur. I'm Mike. Sea otters survive by being one meter long.'"
"Hey Mike," LaMott added. "What do sea otters eat? 'Dur, I'm Mike. Sea otters have whiskers that are three inches long. Also, I don't bathe and my jacket is acid-washed.'"
Alas, manuscripts full of illogical ramblings aren't confined to the realm of acid-washed third graders. And if only reviewers were this mature!