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Reviewing Submissions to Journals - Case C2

Anne Baldwin is a postdoctoral fellow working in a highly specialized area of research on lentiviruses and prions. Her boss, Dr. Sam Richardson, recognizes Anne's talents and believes that she is the most promising postdoctoral fellow in his lab.

Anne's contributions have included aiding Dr. Richardson in identifying a rather obscure pathway by which the prion responsible for Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease, a degenerative brain disorder, emerges from years of latency to initiate active infection.

When Dr. Richardson is asked by a leading neurobiology journal to review an article on the pathology of Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease, he decides to involve Anne because of her skills and specialized experience. He makes a copy of the manuscript and asks Anne to write her own critical review of the piece, just as if she were the actual reviewer. This exercise, he reasons, would afford Anne a good opportunity for exposure to the process of peer review, while putting her in touch with the latest literature on her primary field of research.

Questions:

  1. Is Dr. Richardson's idea a good one? Why or why not? Are there other ways for him to involve Anne in reviewing the article?
  2. Dr. Richardson's motives for having Anne participate in this manner seem well intended. What might be some negative reasons for involving Anne in this way?
  3. What concerns might Dr. Richardson's approach pose for the author of the article? What issues are posed for the journal in which the article may appear?
  4. If Anne feels uncomfortable about Dr. Richardson's request, how might she respond?
  5. Assume that rather than sharing the paper with Anne, Dr. Richardson distributed it to the laboratory's "journal club" for discussion. What kinds of problems does this scenario pose?
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