We applaud your commitment, as expressed in the Editorial “Peer review and fraud” (Nature 444, 971–972; doi:10.1038/444971b 2006), to raising peer-reviewer awareness about detecting fraud. For studies involving humans, independent research ethics committees (in the United States, institutional review boards) provide the first independent critical scrutiny of research protocols. We recently examined the instructions to authors of 103 medical journals and found that none requires authors to provide to readers (as online supplementary information accompanying the publication) the protocols approved by these committees.
As concern increases about the integrity of published scientific research, we believe that biomedical journals should establish a new standard in human-research transparency. They should require authors to state at submission — and, where judged necessary, in their published articles — that the research has been approved by the relevant ethical committees. All journals publishing research on non-human animals (“Animal experiments under fire for poor design” Nature 444, 981; 2006) should do the same for non-human animal protocols.
Journals should also require authors to provide the full protocols approved by these committees for the editors and peer reviewers, and to allow the journal, if it wishes, to publish these protocols as online supplementary information accompanying publication of the main paper.
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Dellavalle, R., Lundahl, K., Freeman, S. et al. Journals should set a new standard in transparency. Nature 445, 364 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1038/445364a
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