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The end of peer review medical journals?

 Peter Frishauf (photo), the founder of Medscape, videotaped an editorial.

He has 2 predictions.

  • Within 5 years, most medical journals will be open-access (ie, provide access to articles and data at no cost).
  • Peer review as we know it will disappear.

Let’s focus on the second prediction.

Mr. Frishauf believes that the Wikipedia model will take the place of peer-reviewed journals. The Wikipedia format would eliminate the “clubby, biased, and incomplete” process that characterizes peer review today, according to Mr. Frishauf. And he quotes Andrew Grove, of Intel Corporation who “likens traditional peer-review systems to Middle Ages guilds.”

The bottom line?
Journal bias is a common complaint. Most recently the complicity of The Lancet in publishing a poorly researched and reported review of homeopathy was discussed here. Other examples can be found among the summaries on this blog.

I don’t think Wikipedia is the model for future publication of original research.

Reviews? Yes.

Original research? No

The example put forward by Mr. Frishauf of the German-language Wikipedia is no different from what exists now.

The bottom line?
Wikipedia is a good resource — I use it all the time. But it doesn’t eliminate bias or ensure depth of information. Compare the entries on George W. Bush, completing his 8th years of being President, and Barack Obama.

12/8/08 22:06 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.