Professor John Slater is supervising a research project conducted by Alice Parker, a graduate student in Slater's lab. Parker is trouble-shooting a protein purification protocol; she wants to use the protocol to purify a recombinant form of a mammalian protein growth factor expressed in bacteria. Parker needs the purified protein to complete the final experiment required to prove her experimental model. Parker and Slater intend to submit a manuscript based on this model to J. Mol. Biol (JMB). While Parker is trouble-shooting the protocol, PLoS Biology sends Slater a manuscript to review; he is asked to return the manuscript with his comments and recommendation for publication. The manuscript turns out to be from a competitor's lab, and the title indicates that the work closely resembles the work Parker and Slater intend to publish.
Lecture 5 Case Study . Peer Review Slater considers the situation. He decides that he can be objective in his review, and he proceeds to read and evaluate the manuscript. After his initial review, he asks Parker for her comments on the manuscript, as the work falls within her field of expertise. Slater and Parker objectively agree that the data are not convincing and that the paper should not be accepted for publication. Slater returns the manuscript to the editor of PLoS biology, with his recommendation that it not be accepted for publication. After reviewing the manuscript, Slater and Parker note that the authors use a recombinant form of the protein growth factor that they purified from yeast using a novel technique. Slater suggests that Parker apply this technique to her purification protocol. The revised protocol works well, and Parker is able to complete the final experiment.
Lecture 5 Case Study . Peer Review Should Slater review the manuscript, given that he hopes to publish in the same area? [A] Yes [B] No Should Slater have shown the manuscript to Parker? [A] Yes [B] No Would it be appropriate for Slater to casually mention the contents of the manuscript in conversation with another colleague? [A] Yes [B] No Should Parker have used the technique from the manuscript in her experiment? [A] Yes [B] No
Lecture 5 Case Study . Peer Review Should Slater review the manuscript, given that he hopes to publish in the same area? Ideally Slater should contact the editor to discuss any potentialconflict of interest- this also maximizes confidentiality by not talking to an external third party. The editor would need to decide. However, professions typically prefer to have the most expert reviewers possible, and a priori assumes trust in the ethics of the reviewer to remain objective. Should Slater have shown the manuscript to Parker? Ideally should not show Parker the manuscript given the possible advantages that it gives her, putting her in an awkward ethical position. However scientific practice is such that asking a lab members opinion (Parker is expert) and has educational value (she learns about the review process), he may do this. Slater should explain the rules of confidentiality and contact the editor to discuss this (likely acceptable) breach in confidentiality.