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F Godlee, T Jefferson (Pp 271; £30.00). London: BMJ Books, 1999. ISBN 0 7279 1181 3
Discussing the merits or otherwise of peer review in the health sciences is very similar to discussing the merits or otherwise of the jury system in the legal process of the courts. Each is surprisingly lacking in evidence upon which to make clear decisions, but each is concerned with systems for judging or rating the evidence, each has a history—and almost certainly a future—of policy crafted by values and opinion. The strongest critics and the strongest defenders are often one and the same. Part of the problem may be that we expect too much of both systems, more than they can ever truly deliver. We therefore create an inevitable expectations/reality gap. One clear example …