Who’s Afraid of Peer Review?

Between January and June 2013, Science contributing correspondent John Bohannon submitted 304 fake research papers to open access journals. The papers were designed with such grave scientific flaws that they should have been rejected immediately by editors and peer reviewers.


A particularly disturbing quote from the “comments” to the article:

by colin butler

I was recently asked to be chief editor of a proposed new journal (about climate change and global health), by a representative of Versita, part of the De Gruyter publishing group, with over 300 journals.

I was to be remunerated (after 2 years) by receiving 10% of the fees for accepted articles; but was to be paid nothing for rejected papers. When I pointed out that this created a conflict of interest it was sadly apparent that the proposer did not understand the concept.

In 2007 we published a letter in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine calling for publishers to declare their conflict of interest. Even prestigious journals such as Nature and Lancet have conflicts of interest: see


Self-Portraits: Smartphones Reveal a Side Bias in Non-Artists

New technology allows for new types of experiments. Here is a study (just published in PlosOne) in which people have been asked to take a photo of themselves with an iPhone camera.

Bruno N, Bertamini M (2013) Self-Portraits: Smartphones Reveal a Side Bias in Non-Artists. PLoS ONE 8(2): e55141. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055141



According to surveys of art books and exhibitions, artists prefer poses showing the left side of the face when composing a portrait and the right side when composing a self-portrait. However, it is presently not known whether similar biases can be observed in individuals that lack formal artistic training. We collected self-portraits by naïve photographers who used the iPhone™ front camera, and confirmed a right side bias in this non-artist sample and even when biomechanical constraints would have favored the opposite. This result undermines explanations based on posing conventions due to artistic training or biomechanical factors, and is consistent with the hypothesis that side biases in portraiture and self-portraiture are caused by biologically- determined asymmetries in facial expressiveness.