Irene Hames

Irene Hames,
independent editorial consultant

Monday, 13 May at 16:00 in the Large Operon, EMBL Heidelberg

Dr. Irene Hames, independent editorial consultant, UK

Quality control in the communication of science: is peer review up to it?


Peer review, the process by which research output is subjected to scrutiny and critical assessment by experts before publication, has long been considered a key component of scholarly publishing. Its shortcomings have been highlighted before, but now there are increasing concerns that peer review is in crisis, some going so far as to say it is ‘broken’. There is also growing unrest amongst researchers with the traditional peer-review model. At one extreme, some critics are even proposing that everything be published, irrespective of quality. But with this model, how would non-specialists and the public know what to believe and what to treat with skepticism, what is evidence based and what is just opinion? There are calls for greater transparency and openness to be brought to a process that has been largely secret and anonymous since it was introduced three and a half centuries ago. The research publishing landscape is changing rapidly, and peer review has to evolve alongside to remain a valued mechanism of quality control. The internet has opened up great opportunities and new players are entering the arena. New innovative models are being developed, some very successfully, and journals and publishers need to adapt to survive. Whatever the model used, it is without doubt that peer review is facing considerable challenges as the range and volume of research output increases.


Dr. Irene Hames – After gaining a PhD in Cell Biology, Irene Hames moved into scientific publishing and has worked on scholarly journals and books for over 30 years. Following a decade as a freelance copy editor, book editor, project manager and trainer, she spent 20 years as the managing editor of a large, international science journal. She now works as an independent editorial consultant, advising and supporting the publishing, higher education and research sectors. She is frequently called upon to give talks and advise on editorial issues, has been a member of a number of working parties on peer review, and in 2011 was the specialist advisor to the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee for its inquiry into peer review and the resulting report, Peer Review in Scientific Publications. She is the author of the book Peer Review and Manuscript Management in Scientific Journals: guidelines for good practice, published by Wiley-Blackwell in association with ALPSP (the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers). Irene is a Council Member, Director and Trustee of COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics) and also holds advisory roles with Sense About Science and the International Society of Managing and Technical Editors. In December 2011 she was made a Fellow of the Society of Biology.