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Peer (and brothers) review? Ethical challenges in author-proposed peer-reviewers

  • Author Footnotes
    1 Both authors equally contributed to the drafting of this write-up.
    P. Charlier
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author.
    Footnotes
    1 Both authors equally contributed to the drafting of this write-up.
    Affiliations
    Section of Medical Anthropology (UVSQ), UFR of Health Sciences, 2 avenue de la Source de la Bièvre, 78180 Montigny-Le-Bretonneux, France

    CASH/Sanitary Unit MA92 & IPES, 403 avenue de la République, 92000 Nanterre, France
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  • Author Footnotes
    1 Both authors equally contributed to the drafting of this write-up.
    E.D. Al-Chaer
    Footnotes
    1 Both authors equally contributed to the drafting of this write-up.
    Affiliations
    Department of Anatomy, Cell Biology and Physiological Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon
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  • F. Bou Abdallah
    Affiliations
    Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Lebanese University, Hadat, Lebanon
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  • C. Massaad
    Affiliations
    UMR 8194, University Paris-Descartes, 45 rue des Saints-Pères, 75006 Paris, France
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  • C. Hervé
    Affiliations
    Department of Medical Ethics and Forensic Medicine (EA 4569), University Paris-Descartes, 45 rue des Saints-Pères, 75006 Paris, France
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  • Author Footnotes
    1 Both authors equally contributed to the drafting of this write-up.
Published:August 18, 2017DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejim.2017.08.002
      The EJIM has recently published a few articles/letters on peer review [
      • Napolitani F.
      • Petrini C.
      • Garattini S.
      Ethics of reviewing scientific publications.
      ,
      • Vercellini P.
      • Buggio L.
      • Vigano P.
      • Somigliana E.
      Peer review in medical journals: beyond quality of reports towards transparency and public scrutiny of the process.
      ,
      • Charlier P.
      • Deo S.
      • Brun L.
      Should a scientist be prevented from publishing in a journal for which he works?.
      ,
      • Charlier P.
      • Deo S.
      • Hervé C.
      Anonymous biomedical publications for security reason? An open letter to the ICJME.
      ], which lead us to ask further methodological and ethical questions: mainly, is it legitimate for an author submitting an article online for publication in a biomedical journal to propose reviewers for that same article? The risk of an evaluation bias is immense, with the possibility of suggesting - as reviewers - friends, colleagues or even family members. The potential for bias, even abuse, persists despite checking, at a later stage of the submission process, a box of compliance with the ethical criteria of publications according to the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). We believe that the risk is too great, and that the quasi-exponential increase in the number of submissions of biomedical articles requires an awareness of this risk. We expect the ICJME to give a clear recommendation regarding the choice and the possibility of selection by the author of potential reviewers that the journal cannot clearly control.
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