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Does Editorial Peer Review Work?

Stephen Lock, MD
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Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, London, United Kingdom, NW1 2BE. Requests for Reprints: Stephen Lock, MD, Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, 183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE, United Kingdom.

Copyright ©2004 by the American College of Physicians

Ann Intern Med. 1994;121(1):60-61. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-121-1-199407010-00012
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For an activity seemingly so important for science, editorial peer review has received scant research. Introduced with the first two scientific journals [1], it did not become universal until after World War II—yet, only in the past 15 years have some data become available for the debate between those who see it as “the linchpin of science” or merely “the informed prejudices of old men.” In this issue, Goodman and coworkers [2] give a preliminary answer to an important unanswered question: Does peer review improve manuscript quality? Jointly, review and the subsequent editing did raise quality, they found, although their relative importance could not be distinguished.

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