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AFB JOURNAL OVISUAL
IMPAIRMENT& BLINDNESS
  
Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss  
 

April 2011 • Volume 105 Number 4

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Editor's Page

Print edition page number(s) 195-195

I am guessing that a lot of the journal's readers have heard or even read about the controversy surrounding the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a highly respected and peer reviewed journal, similar to JVIB in standing, that addresses a different professional area. That journal recently published a peer reviewed manuscript that claims to show the existence of extrasensory perception (ESP). As one might expect, the controversy with the article on ESP is not so much with the topic, but with the authors' claim that ESP exists. Broadly speaking, this assertion has generally been debunked in the literature. I have no opinion about ESP, or at least none that I'll express here, however I did read the criticism of that journal's peer review process that followed the publication of this article. I found the process by which that study was accepted for publication is parallel to the peer review process employed by JVIB. As such, I took the opportunity to carefully review the journal's peer review procedures so that regardless of what is or is not published, the process can be seen as rigorous and fair. The good news is that the challenges or pitfalls that have been identified through the criticisms of that journal's processes are usually avoided through the peer review process that is used for JVIB.

Much of the argument surrounding the publication of the ESP article centers on two issues: the implementation of the peer review process and underlying challenges to the statistical analyses. Some scientists say the peer review process was fine and the report deserved to be published in the spirit of a free exchange of ideas. Others see the fact that this article was published as highlighting flaws in the evaluation and peer review process of that journal. The ESP article was read by four peer reviewers. Its critics suggest that, because the paper defies almost every law of science and because the claims refute decades of research, the manuscript should have gone through an extraordinary peer review process prior to being published. With JVIB peer review we do in fact complete extra reviews for research that is highly controversial for the purpose of assuring our readers that the methods were appropriate. I and the journal's editors are not concerned so much with the findings themselves (academic freedom), but in making sure that whatever we publish is the result of sound research.

The second major criticism of the article was that none of the reviewers were topflight statisticians. I am particularly sensitive to this issue, since our reviewers often will offer extensive comments on the statistical analyses of a manuscript. In addition, we are blessed to have the guidance of our own topflight statistician, William De l'Aune, who has served the journal since 1979.

It has been interesting to watch another journal and editor have their feet held to the fire of intense scrutiny. Regardless of your position on ESP or any other topic, it is journals like JVIB that offer the best hope of advancing our understanding of important issues through the application of a strong peer review and statistical review process.

Since we're on the topic of peer review, this month we recognize the peer reviewers who generously offered their time to the journal in 2010. Everyone who reviewed at least one manuscript this year is included in the JVIB Peer Reviewers listing. We thank all of them for their contributions. It is also with great pleasure that I announce the 2010 peer reviewers of the year, Sunggye Hong, San Francisco State University, and Karen Blankenship, Vanderbilt University. Each of these peer reviewers freely volunteered their time to JVIB over a period of many years, and we recognize their efforts with this acknowledgement. Congratulations, Drs. Hong and Blankenship!

The April issue offers readers the opportunity to learn about assistive technology, tactile maps and virtual maps, the perspective of parents on dual certification, and low vision services in Nepal. I proudly assure you that each article was thoroughly vetted by our outstanding team of peer reviewers and associated editors.

Duane R. Geruschat , Ph.D.
Editor in Chief


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