29 June 2021
In February 2013, Dr. H. Shaw Warren, then a sepsis researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital, was interviewed by Gina Kolata, a reporter at the New York Times about the difficulties his research group had encountered while attempting to publish a specific paper. What was the main objection raised by reviewers for various journals, including Science and Nature? The fact that the study demonstrated that mice were very poor models for mimicking human inflammatory diseases. As Dr. Warren commented, “They [the reviewers] were so used to doing mouse studies that they thought that was how you validate things.”
Eight years later, very little has changed according to some prominent scientists such as Dr. Donald Ingber at The Wyss Institute and Dr. Hans Clevers at University of Utrecht in The Netherlands. Both Dr Ingber and Dr Clevers—who work primarily with human cell-based technologies such as organ on a chip and organoids–have recently encountered resistance from reviewers and journal editors after submitting papers that do not rely on animal models to study human conditions.
This resistance constitutes a type of publication bias that relates to barriers in fully accepting non-animal methods. It occurs when researchers who use more advanced technologies that do not rely on animals are asked to produce animal data as a condition for their papers to be accepted.
To better understand this type of publication bias and how often it happens, the Biomed21 Collaboration teamed up with The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and created a short survey to collect scientists’ impressions and experiences related to peer review.
We would love your input on this topic! Please take our short survey before August 15. It will take approximately 10 minutes to complete. If you know of other scientists who may wish to participate, please share the survey with them. Thank you for participating!
What do you think? Have you encountered publication bias as it relates to non-animal methods? Please share your thoughts and comments below.