Nature and Medical Peer-Review

IJIR from Medscape.com

The following email was sent to Nature‘s International Journal of Impotence Research (IJIR):

Dear Sir,
I read the article “Penile measurements in normal adult Jordanians and in patients with erectile dysfunction” available freely here: http://www.nature.com/ijir/journal/v17/n2/full/3901272a.html The authors state: “When comparing different races, it was found that East Asians penile measurements were statistically lower in comparison to Caucasians.” Their source is listed as “Edward R. Definitive Penis Size Survey, 6th edn, 2002. http://www.sizesurvey.com.” Is this proper medical methodology to use anonymous Internet user surveys to make factual statements in peer-reviewed journal articles? Should they not have highlighted the limitations of the source within the article?

Too often, what can be termed ‘Internet science’ finds its way into peer-reviewed articles. Sadly, Nature is one of the world’s premier hard-science journals. Also, the authors seem to be six Arab medical professionals which begs the following questions:

  • Does a clearly unscientific Internet poll count as an acceptable source in medical articles?
  • Did Western anti-Asian stereotypes colour this analysis?
  • How did this pass peer-review?

Whatever the answers, from my experience in the so-called Third World, this would not be able to pass as a year 1 undergraduate engineering report source.

Sources:

Awwad, Z., Abu-Hijleh, M., Basri, S., Shegam, N., Murshidi, M. and K. Ajlouni. 2005. Penile measurements in normal adult Jordanians and in patients with erectile dysfunction. International Journal of Impotence Research (2005) 17: 191–195.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s