Tag: validation


My worst (recent) experience with peer review

My colleagues and I just published a paper on validation of genomic results in BMC Bioinformatics. It is “highly accessed” and we are really happy with how it turned out. 

But it was brutal getting it published. Here is the line-up of places I sent the paper. 

  • Science: Submitted 10/6/10, rejected 10/18/10 without review. I know this seems like a long shot, but this paper on validation was published in Science not too long after. 
  • Nature Methods: Submitted 10/20/10, rejected 10/28/10 without review. Not much to say here, moving on…
  • Genome Biology: Submitted 11/1/10, rejected 1/5/11. 2/3 referees thought the paper was interesting, few specific concerns raised. I felt they could be addressed so appealed on 1/10/11, appeal accepted 1/20/11, paper resubmitted 1/21/11. Paper rejected 2/25/11. 2/3 referees were happy with the revisions. One still didn’t like it. 
  • Bioinformatics: Submitted 3/3/11, rejected 3/1311 without review. I appealed again, it turns out “I have checked with the editors about this for you and their opinion was that there was already substantial work in validating gene lists based on random sampling.” If anyone knows about one of those papers let me know :-). 
  • Nucleic Acids Research: Submitted 3/18/11, rejected with invitation for revision 3/22/11. Resubmitted 12/15/11 (got delayed by a few projects here) rejected 1/25/12. Reason for rejection seemed to be one referee had major “philosophical issues” with the paper.
  • BMC Bioinformatics: Submitted 1/31/12, first review 3/23/12, resubmitted 4/27/12, second revision requested 5/23/12, revised version submitted 5/25/12, accepted 6/14/12. 
An interesting side note is the really brief reviews from the Genome Biology submission inspired me to do this paper. I had time to conceive the study, get IRB approval, build a web game for peer review, recruit subjects, collect the data, analyze the data, write the paper, submit the paper to 3 journals and have it come out 6 months before the paper that inspired it was published! 
Ok, glad I got that off my chest.
What is your worst peer-review story?

Replication and validation in -omics studies - just as important as reproducibility

The psychology/social psychology community has made replication a huge focus over the last year. One reason is the recent, public blow-up over a famous study that did not replicate. There are also concerns about the experimental and conceptual design of these studies that go beyond simple lack of replication. In genomics, a similar scandal occurred due to what amounted to “data fudging”. Although, in the genomics case, much of the blame and focus has been on lack of reproducibility or data availability

I think one of the reasons that the field of genomics has focused more on reproducibility is that replication is already more consistently performed in genomics. There are two forms for this replication: validation and independent replication. Validation generally refers to a replication experiment performed by the same research lab or group - with a different technology or a different data set. On the other hand, independent replication of results is usually performed by an outside laboratory. 

Validation is by far the more common form of replication in genomics. In this article in Science, Ioannidis and Khoury point out that validation has different meaning depending on the subfield of genomics. In GWAS studies, it is now expected that every significant result will be validated in a second large cohort with genome-wide significance for the identified variants.

In gene expression/protein expression/systems biology analyses, there has been no similar definition of the “criteria for validation”. Generally the experiments are performed and if a few/a majority/most of the results are confirmed, the approach is considered validated. My colleagues and I just published a paper where we define a new statistical sampling approach for validating lists of features in genomics studies that is somewhat less ambiguous. But I think this is only a starting point. Just like in psychology, we need to focus not just on reproducibility, but also replicability of our results, and we need new statistical approaches for evaluating whether validation/replication have actually occurred.