The research conducted by scientific journals themselves is an essential for furthering knowledge. Aspects such as peer review, conflict of interest or malpractice deserve to be analysed by the publications themselves in the interests of greater transparency and quality of the results. However, despite the interest they pose to the scientific community, studies of the editorial process are rare in the literature, especially in the journals that have greater impact.

The latest Esteve Foundation Discussion Group, titled Editorial research, was held in Barcelona on the 12th and 13th December, 2012. It brought together eight international experts on research into editorial aspects. Ana Marušić, head of the department of biomedical and health research at the University of Split (Croatia) and co-director of the Journal of Global Health chaired the meeting. She opened the meeting by discussing the current state and future of research into biomedical publishing.

She was followed by Annette Flanagin, deputy director of the journal JAMA and coordinator of international conferences on Peer Review in biomedical publications, who reviewed some of the most important studies that have presented at this must-attend event for peer review.

Meanwhile, Xavier Bosch, from Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, presented a study on the policies of major scientific journals regarding editorial malpractice. After reviewing the 15 most outstanding publications in 27 different categories, the results show that just over half of the journals have a formal policy on issues such as data falsification, duplication or plagiarism and even fewer have mechanisms to combat such problems.

Do the journals approve of the recommendations aimed at improving publication in science? This was the questions that Erik von Elm, from Cochrane Switzerland, aimed to answer drawing on evidence from surveys and other research, while his colleague in The Nordic Cochrane, Peter Gøtzsche, talked about how to improve accounting, transparency and honesty in medical science.

David Schriger, Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of California and associate director of the Annals of Emergency Medicine, concentrated on the objectives of the peer review, while Harvey Marcovitch, former president of the Committee on Publication Ethics, closed the discussion by exploring some of the retractions made by directors of biomedical journals and the pressures they face. Mario Malicki, from the department of Medical Humanities of the University of Split, will be responsible for writing up all of the issue discussed during this Esteve Foundation Discussion Group for a future scientific article.