Friday, July 21, 2006

Anonymous articles in the scientific literature

The author of the British Medical Journal's Minerva column this week comments on pros and cons of unsigned articles, noting her interest in "...the pros and cons of unsigned articles in scientific journals, which Chest (2006;129: 1395-6[Free Full Text]) has been exploring. She is sympathetic to the view that anonymity protects authors from academic or financial reprisals and that this enables honest and open comment. On the other hand, she sees the force of argument that unsigned articles violate the spirit of transparency intended to minimise, or at least reveal, potential conflicts of interest."

The Chest article concludes, "While there are modest benefits for maintaining a policy of unsigned scientific editorials, these are outweighed by the costs and harms of such a policy. Avoiding anonymity in scientific editorials will improve the transparency of the system of publication and discussion. Most leading medical journals now publish only signed editorials."

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