BIOL2050 - Peer review

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Peer-Review in Scientific LiteratureAlex FilazzolaCritical thinking Lab 2

What is peer-review?- Quality control on scientific research prior to publication- Expert criticism of experimental work- Important part of the scientific method

Revisions are structure as in a question from the reviewer that requires clarification. The italic writing is the authors addressing the reviewers issues and the remaining red writing is the changes to the manuscript to match appropriately. 5

Example of a bad paper

Moss cushions facilitate water and nutrient supply for plant species on bare limestone pavementsSand-Jensen and Hammer 2012

Read to the Size, species richness, and composition of moss cushions section of the methods. 7

Title Indicates the main finding AbstractConcisely written? Provides a clear overview of the work?Contains the essential facts from the paper?Ends by placing the work in a broader context, highlighting its significance?IntroProvides a clear, concise background to the study?Outlines the aims of the study and hypothesesProvides context to the current workMotivation for the work is explainedIs there satisfactory citation of prior literature?

MethodsEnough detail to replicate study?Is it clear what measured?Are the statistical design and analyses appropriate?ResultsAre the results provided in a form that is easy to interpret and understand?Have results for all the questions asked been provided?Are the figures and tables appropriate?Have the correct units of measurement been used?Discussion and ConclusionsHave the authors answered their research question(s)/hypotheses?Are the conclusions drawn from the results justified?Has the significance of the study been fully explained?How do the results relate to similar studies?By how much has this study advanced the current understanding of the science?

Universal intellectual standards

Clarity-Education is an issue in America

Accuracy-Dogs are on average over 300 pounds

Why is it an issue? What is the issue with education. A better example would be: The education system in the USA is not able to appropriately prepare students for the working world. In accurate. I wouldnt leave my house if dogs were on average 300 pounds. 10

Universal intellectual standards

Precision-Jack is overweight

Relevance- Does a paragraph, section or article stay on target?

Precision is the details of how something is delivered. Jack is overweight, is clear. We know that he needs to trim a few pounds, but we dont know by how much. He could be 10 pounds overweight or 300. Relevance, does the paragraph stay on target? Is the author rambling or referencing weird unrelated things in their report. There needs to be a consistency in the writing context. 11

Universal intellectual standards

Depth- Just say no

Breadth- Bias

Depth, such as the common saying just say no in reference to drug use. There was a huge ad campaign against illegal drug use, but simplifying a complex issue to three words isnt appropriately addressing the situation. If it was as easy as just say no then there wouldnt be anyone doing drugs would there? Breath is a measure of bias. Sometimes authors can be biased by their own personal opinions and neglect different persepctives. Breath is how openly the author has approached the topic. 12

Universal intellectual standards

Logic- does this make sense?

Logic, does this make sense? This is probably the hardest on to measure but also one of the most important skills of a being a scientist. Determining whether or not something is logical borrows from your scientific background to determine what is, or isnt true about a statement. 13

Lacks precision



Lacks clarity and depthBad writing

Speed reading an article

AbstractEnd of introductionMethodsBeginning of discussion or conclusion


Example of a good paperHabitat fragmentation effects on annual survival of the federally protected eastern indigo snakeBreininger et al. 2011

Template for analyzing an article

1. The main purpose of this article is:2. The Key question that the author is addressing is:3. The most important information in the article is: 4. The main inference/conclusions in the article are:5. The key concept we need to understand in the article are:6. The main assumptions underlying the authors thinking are:7. The main points of view presented in this article are (present both sides of a debate if present):8. Find examples (good or bad) of the seven Universal Intellectual Standards