Peer review and publication: Lessons for lawyers

Stetson Law Review 36 (3) (2007)
Peer review and publication is one of the factors proposed in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. as indicia of the reliability of scientific testimony. This Article traces the origins of the peer-review system, the process by which it became standard at scientific and medical journals, and the many roles it now plays. Additionally, the Author articulates the epistemological rationale for pre-publication peer-review and the inherent limitations of the system as a scientific quality-control mechanism. The Article explores recent changes in science, in scientific publishing, and in the academy that have put the system under strain. The Author argues that Justice Blackmun's advice to courts - that peer-reviewed publication is relevant, but is not dispositive - is of little practical help. Instead, the Author suggests questions that courts should ask in assessing the significance of the fact that testimony is, or is not, based on peer-reviewed publication and illustrates with reference to another Bendectin case, Blum v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., where some of these questions were asked.
Keywords Peer review  Scientific testimony
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