11 July 2021

not back to normal

 I was only joking in my last post, normal? What's that? For the rise in new cases in your neck of the woods as well as worldwide click here. And listen:


This here is Dr Richard Horton speaking. He is the editor of the The Lancet, a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal, one the world's oldest and best-known general medical journals.

A lot of my work deals with peer-review publications, preparing research findings for publication in  expert journals. So, here follows a short - and possibly boring - breakdown on how science data publication works.

Scientific findings can only be proven, verified or refuted by scientific evidence. Before scientific findings can be published, they are subjected to peer reviews. In order to be able to assess a finding, it is not enough to have an opinion, a gut feeling or 10% half-knowledge as in the youtube academy or the university of google&twitter. In science research, real expertise is required. A science peer is someone with real training, a completed degree, years of research, own publications, lectures at congresses etc. Such a researcher becomes an expert through exchange with other scientists and when they meet at eye level, at some point they receive - via an expert journal editor who has been approached - papers about new research findings from other scientists for review. And these reviews follow a plan. A paper is usually reviewed by several reviewers and always anonymously.  The reviewers check for deficiencies, statistical errors, lack of references and so on. This is a highly demanding (unpaid) activity and not something done on the side. A review can take days, weeks or even months, sometimes there is a lot of to and fro, asking for clarification, additional tests, more detailed information, corrections and so on. Throughout, neither the reviewers nor the authors have any  knowledge as to who reads or submits the paper.

Apart from exact science standards that must be adhered to, the language and grammar of a science paper is strictly regulated (no euphemism, no reference to personal belief/opinion, no hearsay, no embellishment or aggrandizement etc.) - which is where I come in.

Also, before publication, all authors must declare how their work is funded, who had any influence on content and if patients are involved, adherence to the Declaration of Helsinki (ethical principles for medical research with humans) must be proven. The same applies if animals are involved, here every country has its own animal welfare protocol.

Only when everybody is satisfied that all science standards are met will a paper be published in a peer-reviewed journal. And these journals are not for sale on newsstands, they are accessible for members of professional medical associations on their websites and on general expert websites like pubmed or google scholar

When scientists, experienced journalists and science commentators anywhere refer to data, that's where the data comes from, not from a news report or an article in some magazine or what you may have read or heard anywhere online.

unrelated picture to show off some roses (for Robin)


  1. Many thanks. Both for the vital information and for the roses for Robin.

  2. Thank you for writing this explanation of how peer review works. I was somewhat aware of the details and the challenges, but really was surprised by just how complicated it is.
    Those roses are so beautiful. My name is Robin, and I am smiling happily!

  3. Excellent video. I shared it on facebook. Right now it seems that people want to pick and choose when and how science is used, when it benefits them I mean. I suppose it has always been so. We humans seem to repeat our mistakes over and over again, each new generation so sure of themselves, repeating their parents' mistakes. That would be a good name for a book. Iterations.

    Between the pandemic, the drought, the heat, climate change, fucking morons, I'm not feeling all that hopeful.

  4. Thanks for the background on peer reviewed research...a very needed knowledge that science offers in juxtaposition to so many "Opinions" out there.

  5. I don't know about Germany but here in the US Republicans have been defunding education for decades and the results are in...a high percentage of the population is ignorant. dangerously so as evidenced in the anti covid vax segment. unfortunately their ignorance isn't limited to that.

  6. The world is waiting for hard data on covid vaccines. A loved one of mine, fully vaccinated, has tested positive for a breakthrough infection. Her husband is symptom free and is getting tested as I type this. We all still need to be careful out there.