Court Protects Integrity of JAMA Peer Review Process

In a major victory for the integrity of medical journals, the federal district court in Chicago has ruled in favor of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys ruled that JAMA does not have to provide Pfizer with documents concerning how manuscripts are accepted or rejected for publication. In addition, the court denied Pfizer’s attempt to identify the names of peer reviewers as well as their reasons for rejecting certain manuscripts. This is an important victory for scholarly journals, but most especially medical journals which are viewed by large pharmaceutical companies as potential vehicles in their colossal marketing campaigns.
In an editorial reacting to the court ruling, JAMA counsel Joseph P. Thornton and JAMA editor, Dr. Catherine D DeAngelis, wrote: “We firmly believe that ensured confidentiality of reviews allows reviewers to provide professional critiques of manuscripts without fearing potential repercussions from authors. The subpoenas attempted to invade the peer-review process, and we are delighted that Magistrate Judge Keys said so when he ruled they could not be enforced against us.”