Below is the full text of Dr Arpad Pusztai's response to the new Sense About Science report on peer review, which contains a completely bogus claim and other misleading information about his research. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=4074
You will see that Dr Pusztai treats the new report as emanating from the Royal Society, and there are obvious reasons for taking that view. Brian Heap, who chaired the Working Party which drew up the report, and Peter Lachmann. another member of the Working Party, are not only leading Fellows of the Society and amongst its former Officers, but have been at the very heart of the Society's attacks on Pusztai.
The Royal Society, on the other hand, has been keen to insist it is not involved in the report nor in any "sort of shenanigans going on within the scientific community", as the following letter to The Guardian from Stephen Cox of the Society put it:
"Contrary to George Monbiot's claims, the Royal Society is not chairing or hosting the working party on peer review set up by Sense About Science. The Royal Society has established its own independent working group to investigate best practice in communicating the results of new scientific research to the public, including the role of peer review." http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=1880
Below Dr Pusztai's comments we reproduce the agenda and other details of a meeting of the Sense about Science Working Party, which were leaked to us. They suggest the Society's public claims have been at the very least less then fully honest.
According to the letter to The Guardian, "the Royal Society is not ...hosting the working party on peer review set up by Sense About Science". But the agenda shows that the meeting in question was hosted by the Society in its Council Room. Under Any Other Business, only "Date of next meeting" and not location is listed, suggesting the location was probably a fixture.
The leaked details of the meeting also include, beneath the list of members of the Working Party under the chairmanship of the Society's former Vice President:
"The Royal Society - Patrick Bateson/Bob Ward liaison with internal committee"
In the final report, input from people additional to the Working Party is listed. Interestingly, Bob Ward is listed but Patrick Bateson, the Society's Biological Seretary, is not. Bateson has also made misleading public statements about Pusztai and peer review.
1. Pusztai on peer review report
2. Leaked document shows RS connection
1. Pusztai on peer review report
No, I was not aware of this new piece by the RS. They keep up their noble tradition and prove that even in a short para they can be just as untruthful as in their much longer reviews and reports about me. As usual, you were right and I can confirm that we always intended our paper for the Lancet and have NEVER submitted it to another major or minor journal. Horton did finally say that the paper was finally accepted by five out of the six referees and was therefore published in his journal, the Lancet.
Just by musing about their deliberations I find it quite revealing that people, such as Lachmann and Heap who between them have not published any peer-reviewed papers in the last few years, take it on themselves to enlighten the scientific world about their groundbreaking thoughts on the peer-review process. The list of members of the Working Party was also rather interesting and also that they found money to support the process and its publication. I am sure, most of us in the scientific community were holding our breath to read the document.
It is of no secret that peer-review is not an ideal way to deal with publication in science. Unfortunately, just like Churchill said about democracy, we have nothing better. Most working scientists take a pragmatic view of peer review and if their paper is rejected by one journal they utter a few curses and then "re-package" and re-format the draft and submit it to another journal. The best I can say about the waffle of the members of this Working Party is that they are naive and most of them past it forgetting anything about what is important in the process of scientific publication. This RS report will go the same way as most of them before. By tomorrow nobody will remember it.
2. Leaked document
Working Party on Peer Review of Research Results
Meeting 2pm Tuesday 26th November
Council Room, The Royal Society
Working Party members:
Chair: Professor Sir Brian Heap
Secretary: Tracey Brown, Director, Sense About Science
Professor Colin Blakemore, The BA
Professor David Cope, Director, Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology
Peter Cotgreave, Director, Save British Science
Dr Paul Drayson, Chairman, BioIndustry Association & Chairman, Powderject
Dr Richard Harvey, Director of Research, Alzheimer’s Society
Fiona Fox, Director, The Science Media Centre
Tony Gilland, Institute of Ideas (Science and Society Stream)
Professor Stevan Harnad, University of Southampton
Professor Sir Peter Lachmann, The Academy of Medical Sciences
Sir John Maddox, Former Editor Nature
Alan Malcolm, Chief Executive, Institute of Biology
Dr Robert Moor, former Head of the Laboratory of Protein Function, Babraham Institute
The Royal Society - Patrick Bateson/Bob Ward liaison with internal committee
Representatives may also join from the Biochemical Society and the Institute of Physics.
1. Background, introduced by the Secretary
a. Introduction on the origins of the Working Party and the role of Sense About Science
b. Terms of reference
* Peer review in the context of suspicion of scientific expertise
* The impact of peer review on scientific research results in the public domain
* Opportunities to widen understanding of and to popularise the principle of peer review
c. The Royal Society's review of peer review in practice, which may overlap on the examination of 'case studies' of apparent failures or avoidance of peer review, and also on the issues of secrecy and intellectual property restrictions.
* How we can work to integrate studies
* Draft memorandum of understanding (sent with Agenda) to be amended/agreed
* Correspondence from the Wellcome Trust (sent with Agenda)
2. Discussion of key areas
The chairman will introduce a number of topics about which members are invited to make comments, to help develop a work plan for the future.
a. Current perceptions of peer review, among scientists, the public, the media and social critics, policy-makers, educators etc.
b. Publicising research results before peer review: prevalence, current trends and the signficance for science, and society
c. Alternative methods of assessing the signficance of research
d. Confidentiality, secrecy requirements and intellectual property
3. Role of Case studies
a. What are the commonly-referenced incidents that give cause for concern or demonstrate the effect of peer review?
b. Which, if any, should be investigated further?
4. Methodology of the present study
* Working party membership and other potential contributors
* Evidence gathering
* Analysing cases
b. Outputs Opportunities to promote peer review to a wider audience
* Clarification of the peer review mechanism, viz. exposure to critical analysis
Dealing with inaccurate or over inflated claims
* Categorisation of reviewed and non-reviewed results
* Science on the internet
* Correction in the media
* Conduct of journals and researchers
c. Sources of funding
5. Any Other Business
* Date of next meeting