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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 57  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 108--109

Peer-review and post-publication discourse: The challenges

Raj Kumar Shrimali, Yakhub Mohammed Khan 
 Arden Cancer Centre, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, Coventry, UK

Correspondence Address:
Raj Kumar Shrimali
Arden Cancer Centre, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, Coventry

How to cite this article:
Shrimali RK, Khan YM. Peer-review and post-publication discourse: The challenges.Indian J Cancer 2020;57:108-109

How to cite this URL:
Shrimali RK, Khan YM. Peer-review and post-publication discourse: The challenges. Indian J Cancer [serial online] 2020 [cited 2022 Sep 25 ];57:108-109
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Full Text

We are pleased to read the message from the editors in the recent issue of the Indian Journal of Cancer.[1] We agree with the concerns and questions raised by the editors. The editors have shown courage and modesty to accept that being human, neither editors nor referees would always get everything right. The readers may wish to critique some aspect of the paper – whether it is relevant methodology, statistical approach, interpretation, or discussion. Occasionally, a reader may argue against the more fundamental aspect of the paper, and even disagree with the basic question addressed in an article. Some readers add to the information by sharing their own experience and how it fits in the scenario. Hitherto unpublished data from their own experience could be included in the letter, which may add to the evidence or temper the argument by presenting an alternative and more balanced view.

The editors have also rightly pointed out that younger researchers could make a debut with the letters column. In the cultural context, the student and teacher relationship in India is unique. As many of the papers arise from student projects used as dissertation for their Doctor of Medicine (MD), they include teachers and research supervisors as co-authors. By raising a question, a young researcher could risk being interpreted as being disrespectful or challenging authority.

Second, the articles have to be topical and timely in order to arouse interest and debate that would conform to the “post-publication debate.” The articles that have been accepted are not available to the readers for several months, even from the “ahead of print” section of the journal website. Besides, some students may have completed their MD and moved onto subsequent posts, sometimes at a different location, and may not be in a position to respond to a comment or query on behalf of a previous institution.

Faculty members from various universities are known to review and critique the dissertation thesis for students on a routine basis. Therefore, the editors are right in expressing surprise at the perceived reluctance shown by some when it comes to contributing to the peer-review process. Some international regulatory bodies allow continuing professional development or continuing medical education (CME) credits for editing, refereeing, or reviewing a paper or report for recognized peer-reviewed scientific or medical journal. Introducing CME credits, in a systematic manner, for peer-reviewing manuscripts may encourage some of our readers to be more pro-active. Sending an annual certificate or report to each reviewer, listing the titles and manuscript numbers for the peer-reviewed papers, and a total of approved CME credits would go a long way to acknowledge and appreciate the time and effort that goes into this selfless task performed with anonymity.

However, we must congratulate the editors for raising important questions. Recognition of a problem is the first step toward finding solutions. A robust peer-review process followed by a healthy post-publication discourse can only be good for the cause of science.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


1Pai SA, Deshmane V, Borges AM. Where are the letter writers? And the referees? Indian J Cancer 2017;54:591.