On being a scientist – second meeting planned

After our first pilot of our workshop ‘on being a scientist’ it is time for the second installment. The date has been set (feb 19th), and the location remains unchanged. Slight changes to the programme though! Afterall, whats the use of a pilot if you don’t learn from it. The main program remains the same, as you can see below:

  • Introduction
  • A short history of scientific misconduct, the case of the Netherlands
  • From Fishy to fraud – a discussion about the grey area
  • PhD candidates: a special case?
  • Closing remarks

Hope to see you there!

New publication: LTTE in the American Journal of Epidemiology

12.coverAt the department of Clinical Epidemiology of the LUMC we have a continuous course/journal in which we read epi-literature and books in a nice little group. The group, called Capita Selecta, has a nice website which can be found here. sometime ago we’ve read an article that proposed to include dormant Mendelian Randomisation studies in RCT, to figure out the causal pathways of a treatment for chronic diseases. This could be most helpful when there is a discrepancy between the expected effect and the observed effect. During the discussion of this article we did not agree with the authors for several reasons. We, AGCB/IP/myself, decided to write a LTTE with these points. The journal was nice enough to publish our concerns, together with a response by the authors of the original article. The PDF can be found via the links below which will take you to the website of the American Journal of Epidemiology. The PDF of our LTTE can also be found at my mendeley profile.

original article
letter to the editor
response by the author

Bad Pharma 2013 – a great succes

bad pharma skype

300 students reading one book, summarising it contents and discussing three propositions in order to grasp the essence of the book. This might sound a bit boring perhaps…But what if it Goldacres book Bad Pharma, you only have to read 30 pages and still get the content of the complete book, and get to Skype with the author? Great fun!

And we weren’t the only who had fun: Ben Goldacre addressed 300 students, all with critical questions, and apparently he enjoyed the whole debate:

We also invited AV, a spokesperson of NEFARMA an organisation who represents most pharmaceutical companies in the Netherlands. With him we discussed whether the AllTrials campaign was a waste of time and money. Also, BB  a reporter from the Mare, who has knowledge on conflict of interest of professors joined in on the discussion whether professors should declare their COI before each lecture. All in all, it was a great day in which some of the students were shocked by the message of Ben Goldacre, whereas other students were not impressed and doubted whether there view is too one-sided… The debate still continues!

Bad Pharma Symposium on the front page of Mare

Mare 2013 11 28 Bad Pharma  - front pageThis week, the Mare decided to run a story on Bad Pharma book by Ben Goldacre and our related symposium. The author, BB did an outstanding job in describing the argument Goldacre brings forward in his book. As you might know, we are organising a symposium for our 300 students that are following our course “academic and scientific training”, because I believe that doctors should learn about their field that they will graduate in once they have graduated. A quote from me in the Mare (in Dutch)

Dokter zijn gaat verder dan alleen het behandelen van één patiënt. Onze beroepsgroep heeft een bijzondere positie in de samenleving; mensen leggen letterlijk hun leven in je handen. Naast je arts-patiëntrelatie heb je ook te maken met de wetenschap, beleidsmakers en de farmaceutische industrie. Aankomende artsen moeten daarvan bewust worden en goed op de hoogte zijn van de ontwikkelingen in hun veld. Dit boek sloeg de spijker op zijn kop.

one little error slipped in… I am not a doctor and therefore it is officially not ‘onze beroepsgroep’ but i think people will grasp the point that I try to make. The complete article can be read here.

Academic and scientific training about to start

After 7 months of preparation the new and improved version of the second year course ‘Academic and Scientific Training’ is about to start. Tomorrow, 300 students will come together for two weeks to learn the how and why of clinical epidemiology. We emphasize on testing new treatments in RCT, and how doctors should critically appraise the articles that describe these studies.

Together with AvHV, JS and others we were able to secure funding to buy 400 copies of the book “Bad Pharma” (click for more background) In order to organise a ‘Bad Pharma Symposium’. In this symposium, all students will read the whole book, do some research on three topics which will be debated in the final debate. This will take a lot of commitment of all students, but what to think of the 40+ Teaching Assistants that we need for this course!

All in all, it’s time to start!

On being a scientist – first pilot was a succes

Last week we had our first pilot of our workshop ‘on being a scientist’. When I first wrote about this I was talking about a LUMC workshop, but we’ve got an upgrade: the workshop is now targeted at PhD candidates from all over the university. This way ll participants can learn from the dfiferences and similarities between areas of research. Exciting stuff!

We started last week with a small group of 12 PhD candidates from all over the university. This pilot included candidates from law, physics, psychology, medicine and the campus The Hague were all present. Also present were TdC as a co-organiser and KS as our guest.

Although the formal evaluation forms have not been processed I guess we can establish that the pilot was succesful and with that I mean that the pilot showed that we are on the right track: of course some of the content needs to be changed, but the general flow of the workshop was great. The same goes for the participants and the location.

Below a short programme

  • Introduction
  • A short history of scientific misconduct, the case of the Netherlands
  • From Fishy to fraud – a discussion about the grey area
  • PhD candidates: a special case?
  • Closing remarks

The guys from the human resource department who are responsible for the general eduction programme of all PhD who start at the Leiden University have decided that this workshop is a great way to get this topic to the attention of young researchers. The first thought is to take this workshop as a compulsory part of the eduction programme. To cater to all the 400 new PhD students the university has, we need more scientist from all over the university who can teach this course. This means we need to work on the reproducibillity of the course. with more generic examples and a clear descrition of the reason why some parts are included etc. But if we succeed, I believe that this workshop is a great way to let PhD candidates talk and think about this subject matter, which hopefully will be of help in their scientific career.

journalclub: change in program

The articles that need to be read for the journalclub meeting #7 and #8 are switched! See below for an update.

7 5-nov Ovaska MT, Madanat R, Huotari K, et al. Risk Factors for Deep Surgical Site Infection. 2013;348–353.
8 12-nov Hernán M a., Hernández-Díaz S, Robins JM. A Structural Approach to Selection Bias. Epidemiology. 2004;15(5):615–625.

How science goes wrong? we’re improving!


Fraud, shoddy and sloppy science, conflicts of interest… Who said a science career is boring? When I write on these topics I sometimes have the feeling that I am doing science more harm than good; am I doing science a favor by showing its weaknesses and caveats? The answer still remains yes, for I believe that we need problems need to be identified before you can act on them. This is also the theme of this post: What is all being done on these topics in the last couple of days. A point by point list:

  • AllTrials: The AllTrials initiative which I support is going into its next round.Pharmaceutical companies are opening up (LEO, GSK), there are hearings in brussels and the debate in Medical journals (especially the BMJ, as one of the founders of AllTrials) is going on. Great stuff!
  • PubMed commons (a commenting system in PubMed, as a new post publication peer review) got online. It’s still a trial, but boy this is cool. I love its punchline: “A forum for scientific discourse”.
  • We organised a try out of our ‘on being a scientist’ workshop on which i wrote earlier this post. IN this post i say that is if going to be a LUMC workshop, but this changed to a workshop for all starting PhD students from the university Leiden, thus including all faculties. I am truly exciting and it our first run in november works out, this workshop might even become part of the official PhD education program of the university Leiden. The economist published a coverstory on How science goes wrong. It tells how science, peer review, statistical false positives etc work. It is a good read, especially when you are interested in science as a social process. Some remarks can be made: it’s not all that bad because scientist tend to be familiar with how the system works… the system might not be perfect, but it is at the moment the best we can do… luckily there are ways to get better, ways that are also discussed in the article.It is good that the economist and other media shares these concerns, because now this might up to build to critical mass to really change some of the weak points in the system. I thought about using the graph published next to the paper, but once I discovered the animated version of the graph i fell in love. See for yourself below. (PS false positives: another reason why not only to rely on statistical testing!)
  •  – edit: i changed the title of the pot… the first title was a bit pretentious –

Continue reading “How science goes wrong? we’re improving!”

Diane 35 and thrombosis risk – Zembla broadcast

The oral contraceptive pill ‘Diane 35- was’ in the news again. I wrote about the diane-35 pill on this website before, even twice,  when there was a broadcast of the radio show Argos.

The first time I wrote:

[…] this is a bit strange: there is nothing new about the information that third and fourth generation oral contraceptives have an increased risk of thrombosis compared to the risk conveyed by second generation oral contraceptives. Because the desired effects of the older and newer generation pills are similar (not getting pregnant, preventing or curing acne) there is limited, if any, reason to prescribe the newest and more expensive pills. See also the recent comment by Helmerhorst and Rosendaal in the BMJ. However, still 160.000+ (Diane 35) 500.000 (third generation) women take these newer pills. […]

Those words also fit the broadcast of the TV show Zembla last week. Zembla has a reputation to be ‘activist reporters’ and some of the broadcast is not to my taste. It is however good to see that Zembla tried to figure out how it is possible that Diane-35, which is not registered as an anti-conception pill, still gets prescribed as such. However, the broadcast leaves me unsatisfied for it does not provide answers, or even get to talk to everybody they wanted to? (Why did they reporters did not proceed to work on their WOB? a missed change!)

As in the previous two blog posts on this topic, I feel like these story are important but they also need to have the proper amount of nuance. Therefore, also this time I conclude with saying that the absolute risk of thrombosis in young women (both venous and arterial) is very low, even when using oral contraceptives. But all unnecessary risk without any benefit that can be avoided should be avoided. As always, consult your GP if you have any questions.

Nacht van Kunst en Kennis

On the 14th of september (a saturday) the Nacht van Kunst en Kennis will be organised in Leiden. During this festival, the differences and similarities between arts and science will be explored on several locations. A great initiative, which might just increase the public awareness of the necessity of interest free research.The program is quite interesting with inspiring scientist and great artists!

I will also be helping out during this festival night: I will host the section that is organised by science cafe leiden. This organisation tries to bridge the presumed gap between science and the lay person. We will be discussing several themes which are still subject to change… currently we are thinking along the lines of bounderies… Where is the line between just the right amount and to much. More information on this special section can be found here

Scientific fraud on TV – improvisation program

onderzoeksfraude de vloerop

I find the several Dutch examples of scientific fraud and misconduct quite intriguing and  I consider this topic to be one of my ‘projects’. I believe that these examples from the past learn us how the exactly the scientific community works. Different books, documentaries and reports have been published on this topic (such as the books from Frank van Kolfschoten, the  weird apology-in-book-format from Diederik Stapel, the nice documentary on Buck, and the comprehensive reports from the KNAW such as the Schuyt report), and since last friday we can add an episode of the Dutch program “de vloer op” a TV program in which Dutch top actors improvise scenes which are only described in one little sentence.

For this scene, two actors are placed in an empty university dining hall, and the junior scientist is about to confront the senior prof with his suspicion of scientific fraud. The result can be seen here (unfortunately the video cannot be embedded on this wordpress.com website)

PS if you like “de vloer op” please consider to support this great program because the government support for HUMAN is not guaranteed. please visit their special website.

ERA-EDTA CME course – “interpretation and presentation of study results”

During “conference season” I visited several conferences: ISTH, eurostroke, WEON, NVTH,  UK-CIM and the ERA-EDTA. During all conferences I got the opportunity to present my own research, except for during the ERA-EDTA. For this conference I was asked to teach in a CME course on how to perform and interpret a clinical research project. The program:

– Setting up your study: study questions and study designs
Vianda Stel, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

– Threats to validity of study findings: bias and confounding
Kitty Jager, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

– Prognosis vs aetiology
Friedo Dekker, Leiden, the Netherlands

– Interpretation and presentation of study results
Bob Siegerink, Leiden, the Netherlands

Since this is a conference on kidney diseases, the examples that I use are from that field. Although not necessarily my field, I believe that the talk can be of interest for anybody who is at the start of their research career. Please click the picture below to see the talk (slides + audio)

click here for audio and slides

Bad Pharma Symposium

I just got word that we got funding from an external to buy 400 copies of Bad Pharma to use as instruction material in our redesigned course on academic and scientific education. The book touches upon the role of  the pharmaceutical industry in the design, execution, presentation and dissemination of results of clinical trials. The author, Ben Goldacre, identifies several problems and brings forth several solutions. But are these all correct?

We will use this basic question as the basis for a complete symposium on this topic: are the problems identified by Goldacre the real problems, or just cherry picked examples from the past? And are the solutions that he provides real solution that could work? And can we think of any other way to improve the care of our patients in the future?

I had this idea a long time ago when i first read this book. It touches upon a matter that is discussed in the old version of this course for a couple of years. Even more so: during this course students are asked to grade the quality of trials and the subsequent reference to this publication. The results show that the quality is often low, even in high impact journals, and that the references do not always justify the claims made in medical advertisements. These results have been published in several publications and are even cited in the book.

It was quite a hassle to get a ‘normal’ book into the curriculum of our medical center. Most people liked the idea of reading a book and organising a symposium, but a lot of people told me that it was impossible to do so. A “normal” book could not be placed on the mandatory reading list, and just buying electronic or hard copy  versions is just way to expensive. luckily, with help from the Walaeus Library of the LUMC and prof FMH we were able to obtain external funding. And no, its not funded by ‘big pharma’, but a small fund that subsidises small but nice projects that make the world a bit smarter.

Measuring aerosols with your smartphone

Today I participated in crowdsourced science: Measuring aerosols with my smartphone. Thousands of measurements in one day, all about the air quality in the Netherlands. The nice thing about this project is that laypeople are the researchers: everybody that ordered a free gadget for their iPhone is a researcher on this great sunny day. How the measurements work? See for yourself!

More on this project can be seen on their website ispex.nl. This project was made possible with funds fron the Dutch lung foundation and the Academische Jaarprijs. So is it time to think of a big epi project in which crowd sourced data can be used?

New publication in NTVG: patient crossover studies

Recently another paper became available online. Although accepted couple of months before and not yet in print, the paper on patient crossover studies can now be read and downloaded from the NTVG website. This paper, with first author REJR,  is a continuation on the paper on crossover trials on which I’ve blogged earlier. Together, these articles provide a comprehensive overview of the possibilities to use a study subject as its own control.

Eurostroke 2013

Today, I write from the Eurostroke conference. This conference is a yearly conference for stroke physicians and researchers to share knowledge, both existing and new. I always liked the idea of combining research and education in a conference.

There are about 3500 delegates, as can be seen from the panorama photo I just took during the plenary clinical trials session. Although most of these topics are not directly of interest fr my own research, I enjoyed seeing how these PI share their work, which sometimes is a real impressive feat.
Image ESCI gotta run to my poster session, where I will present the poster below. If I referred you to this site to download the electronic version of the poster, you can click the link below.

 Poster eurostroke 2013 Siegerink et al P255

New course started today: Scientific education

Today, the course scientific education started. This course, a regular 2nd year course in the LUMC curriculum, runs for three weeks and is organised by AvHV and myself. This is the last year this course will be given in this form, and we are working hard to modify the course to make it fit in the new curriculum. This means that this year we have a opportunity to test some of my our ideas. One of these things is a non compulsory journalclub, in which we’re going to read one article with all students at the same time. I’m curious how may students really would like to train their scientific skills, outside of the curriculum.

Also, we are preparing a new full day interactive assignment and sympium, which is centered around the book Bad Pharma of author Ben Goldacre. I hope to fine some students that are wiling to help me in this development of this part of the new course. Exciting stuff!

– edit 30/5 : the course just finished and 320 students took their exam friday 24th. Although i do like students, I hope I won’t have to see them again for that will mean that they failed the course.

Grant awarded to investigate the long term effects of cardiovascular disease at a young age

Today I got a letter from the Leiden University Fund (LUF) to inform me that the grant we requested was granted. This is great, because now we can investigate the long-term effects of young stroke, myocardial infarction and peripheral arterial disease. We will do this by linking our data from the RATIO to the several national databases (e.g. cause of death registries and hospital admissions) that are under control by the central bureau of statistics (CBS). I will perform this research together with AM and other Italian colleagues from Milan. 

The grant (11K) that was awarded is the Den Dulk Moermans Fonds, which exist since 2010, as we can read from the Dutch information the LUF website:

Het Den Dulk-Moermans Fonds is opgericht in 2010 na ontvangst van een erfenis van dhr. A.M. den Dulk. De doelstelling van het Fonds is het financieren van onderzoek naar gezondheid in de breedste zin van het woord.

Diane 35 and thrombosis risk – Argos broadcast part II

Last week I wrote a post after hearing the radio broadcast of Argos. They concluded that broadcast with the promise to discuss how it is possibe that a more expensive, just as effective medicine which has more side effects still can be prescribed (in large numbers) in the Netherlands.

So I’ve listen with great interest the second part of the story, which can be heard on the Argos website. They journalists did a good job by covering all sides of the story , and they provide insight in the differences between ‘advertisement’ and ‘providing information’. What if information that is provided is only one sided? Does that count as advertisement? and if you want to play a nice game during the broadcast, ‘spot the logical fallacy’ is good suggestion… Gems!

In case you are wondering: the absolute risk of thrombosis in young women is low, even when using oral contraceptives. But I still believe that all unnecessary added risk without any benefit that can be avoided should be avoided by you in dialogue with your GP!

Is science self-cleansing? An article in the “Academische Boekengids” discussing report cie. Schuyt

Earlier I wrote about the “Adviescommissie onderzoeksgegevens in de wetenschap van de KNAW” and their report “Zorgvuldig en integer omgaan met wetenschappelijke onderzoeksgegevens”. This report induced a discussion in the March 2013 edition of the Academische Boekengids .

Three scientist give their vision: Miedema (dean of Medicine at the UMCU) Vandenbroucke (KNAW professor and professor of epidemiology at the LUMC, member of committee Schuyt) and Paul (professor of secularization studies in Groningen). Important to note is that the contradiction between the authors was known beforehand.

Miedema identifies a change in science, especially medical and social science, in which economic and social forces influence science and scientists. These forces have led to a ‘system failure’ of science, leading to shoddy science or in his words ‘post academic science’. Miedema argues that these changes cannot be undone and certain measures need to be taken to correct this system failure. What measures? Miedema points toward Quality Assurance and Quality Control (QA/QC) making a comparison with so called pharmaceutical research embedded within Good Clinical Practice (GCP). This should be done by governments, universities and funding bodies. Interestingly, he leaves scientist out of this list. And what does Miedema think of the report of the committee? He believes the vision of the report is based on the old idea of science where all scientist are directly held accountable by peer pressure, a vision that according to Miedema is not valid in this day and age.

Vandenbroucke points out an error in the argumentation: Miedema targets post academic science. Vandenbroucke agrees that this is a problem, but not the problem discussed by the committee. Their task was to see how data during and after research should be treated in order to keep science workable without to many hiccups and problems. The committee provides some answers but one of the main themes is that scientist should self-regulate, for they are the only experts in this area. This is in contrast to who Miedema who abhors the idea of self-regulation: science is not science anymore, so how can scientist self-regulate with all these strong forces that are incomprehensible to grasp for a simple scientist. Vandenbroucke counteracts Miedema by explaining that his vision of science (science is the search for truth) is not at odds with the problems that arise with post academic science (science is a complex social construct in which forces other than the truth have a big influence). Even more: these two notions can coexist, a concept first noted by Stephen Jay Gould.

Paul tries to reconcile the two previous writers: he agrees with Miedema that in earlier times the scientist was appreciated for his behavior as a person, whereas this view seems to be outdated in this day and age. But Paul also approaches the problem from the other side: the solution of the problems that come with post academic science calls for strong personalities that can counter unwanted forces that trouble science. Paul mentions the work of the science historian which he – ought enough in this context- announces as an ‘honored scientist’ (Dutch: gelauwerde wetenschapper) who published his ‘handsome study’ (Dutch: fraaie studie).

So what are the suggested solutions? Because the authors disagree on the origins of the problem, their solution also differ. Especially Vandenbroucke and Miedema find themselves on first glance diametrically opposed to one other. Vandenbroucke wants to start a discussion bottom up on what it is to be a good scientist, whereas Miedema wants top down QA and QC. These ideas are not new. For example, Jacobus Lubsen also brought this concept in an article in the NRC of December of 2011. Quality control and forensic statistics should increase the detection rate of wrongdoing and should therefore be instituted. I responded to this article with a small letter to the NRC in which I state that complete control is difficult and expensive and often only identifies shoddy and fraudulent science with hindsight. Additionally it will have a preventive effect on bad science, but will it have such an effect on fraud? After all, other fields that have huge governance structures such as banking and accountancy also have their fraud scandals. Even more, the frequency of sloppy science is hardly affected by these measures. A better way to prevent both sloppy and fraudulent science is, I believe, a better training of young scientist. By introducing young scientist to the key concepts of scientific conduct, creating a critical but non-repressive atmosphere, perhaps even in several research groups to prevent tunnel vision of individuals, will lead to an increased informal control and a decrease in sloppy and shoddy science. The committee also mentions this concept and calls this “increasing peer pressure” and puts scientist at the helm of this operation.

It will not surprise you that I agree with Vandenbroucke for the most part. But I also see merit in the argumentation of Miedema. Perhaps I agree with both to some extent because they address two different concepts: science is the quest for knowledge and based on epistemic virtues. Self-regulation by education of young aspiring scientist in a positive but critical atmosphere will increase the quality of research over time. But science is also a social construct and scientist need, besides guidance by peers, governance and regulations for certain scenarios: the cases Stapel and Poldermans as well as the previously discussed book ‘Bad Pharma’ by Ben Goldacre are examples why this might be true. Besides informal peer review and guidance, an extended system of checks and balances, GCP or not, might help to keep colleagues accountable for their work. Science in itself is a system of checks and balances, but this system might be expanded with some form of regulation and standardization with efficacy and efficiency kept in mind. But most of all, now is the time train the young.

– update on 25/3/2013: an interview with both JvdB and FM was published in the NTVG. Together with the editor-in-chief they discuss performing research, obtaining a PhD and publishing your results. click here for the pdf (NTVG website, in Dutch)


Hora Est – thesis is topic of a Cicero article

cicero maart 2013The Cicero, the monthly magazine of the LUMC, wrote an article on my thesis. During the interview, I was able to bring fort the nuances of the work in the thesis. That is, my thesis does not fully provide all the answers in details for allr esearch questions but it does provide a simple overview: an increased clotting potential is a risk factor for ischaemic stroke but not for moycardial infarction. Unfortunately, space limitations dictated that some remarks had to be left out. Fortunately, the last remarks is about the relevance of teaching experience as a PhD: a great link to one of my propositions.

The picture above was placed in the Cicero to accompany the interview. I like it very much because it has a certain epidemiological feel to it: a group (a cohort?) of women all different, but with certain patterns.

The text of the interview can be downloaded from the media page, directly directly clicking here (pdf). The text can also be read online if you… Continue reading “Hora Est – thesis is topic of a Cicero article”

Diane 35 and thrombosis risk – Argos broadcast

The oral contraceptive pill – especially the Diane 35- was in the news again. However, this is a bit strange: there is nothing new about the information that third and fourth generation oral contraceptives have an increased risk of thrombosis compared to the risk conveyed by second generation oral contraceptives. Because the desired effects of the older and newer generation pills are similar (not getting pregnant, preventing or curing acne) there is limited, if any, reason to prescribe the newest and more expensive pills. See also the recent comment by Helmerhorst and Rosendaal in the BMJ. However, still 160.000+ (Diane 35) 500.000 (third generation) women take these newer pills. Since thrombosis risk might be highest in the first few months, it is unclear whether these women all should switch to the safer second generation oral contraceptives. But for women who get their first prescription, a second generation oral contraceptive the best way to go (also according the Dutch GP guidelines).

A lot of the research on this topic has been executed by my colleagues from both the MEGA study and the RATIO study. Want to learn more about the pill controversy, please listen this episode of Argos, a Dutch radio programme.

In case you are wondering: the absolute risk of thrombosis in young women is low, even when using a newer generation oral contraceptives. But all added risk that can be avoided should be avoided by you in dialogue with your GP!

ISTH 2013 Amsterdam

The ISTH 2013 will be held in Amsterdam. This is a nice opportunity for Dutch researchers to really show how a nice conference should be: work hard during intensive debates on good research during the day and relax, drink and meetup with old friends in the evening.

Today I got an email asking me to help in abstract reviewing committee. This is not the first time to get such a request, but being a member of the ISTH and having most of my research n the topic of thrombosis, I feel this is truly an honor.

As a sidenote, I made a remark in an earlier post on the open system of reviewing: should every reviewer relinquish their anonymity?  This is not the case in this abstract selection committee, but there is at least a measure to prevent old boys network bias: all abstract are reviewed and scored in a blinded fashion. This does not prevent that persons can be identified by knowing their previous and ongoing work, but at least it helps to prevent -unconscious- preferential reviewing and scoring.

2013 advisory committee of JTH

https://encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQYbRUW6lG_9qk_3f_81zlBXZ9qL_w3g1T_HDUnfaP81FoEKjxOI just got an email asking whether I would like to join the advisory committee of the JTH for the year of 2013. What a surprise! The text in the email reads:

[…]Our Advisory Board is composed of our most active reviewers and we expect members to review for us from time to time when papers fall within their expertise.[…]

I am truly honored with this invitation, and although I do not yet fully understand the difference between a regular reviewer and a member of the advisory board, I am really enthusiastic to help the journal to reach for and maintain the high academic standard of their articles. Recently, I’ve been wondering about the peer review system: should we change it in order to help prevent publication bias / scientific misconduct? Should we open up the system and urge reviewers to relinquish their anonymity like they ask at the PLoS journals?