By creating an environment whereby experts can share their opinions under psychologically safe conditions, SciPinion has created a safe haven for experts to share their true opinions without influence and we are putting this to work to help inform the most important science issues facing society.
Far too often, important debates about important scientific issues are inflamed by activists, competing research groups or sometimes simply because the science on a specific issue has some uncertainty. This environment can lead to reactionary decisions by regulators or fuel litigation. In some situations, experts who share their opinions on these controversial topics are attacked.
When the SciPinion Peer Review Process is followed in its entirety, it is considered a SciPinion Certified Peer Review. These peer reviews adhere to the following standards:
We stand behind the results of these panels, certifying their objectivity, integrity, and reproducibility. Read on to learn more about our proprietary peer review process.
We have employed our process to engage the world’s experts, conducting peer reviews, providing companies and governments better insight on how scientific data should be interpreted and applied to decision making. We have recruited thousands of experts in toxicology, epidemiology, and exposure assessment to serve on peer review panels and conduct consulting efforts to date.
As part of our peer review practice, we have developed a formal approach to identifying, recruiting, selecting, and engaging panels of experts to minimize potential bias (Figure 1: Kirman et al., 2019). We have also developed a robust web app that facilitates collections of opinions and debates amongst panels of experts, all while remaining anonymous to each other during the engagement.
Our approach to asking detailed questions with quantitative response options supports quantitative measures of opinions and statistical measures of outliers and consensus amongst panels of experts. This integrated approach has been shown to yield reproducible results (Figure 2: Kirman et al., 2019). No other company or government body has tested or proven that their approach to assembling and conducting peer review panels yields reproducible results/outcomes. The fact that SciPinion has proven our approach is reproducible lends extensive credibility to the outcomes of our reviews and position statements and will carry more weight than the opinion of a single expert or consulting firm.
Any engagement with SciPinion can be designed to best meet the project objectives.
A SciPi is defined as a collection of Scientific oPinions. There are various design options to each stage of a project. Each panel engagement with SciPinion involve three basic phases: Pre-SciPi, SciPi and Post-SciPi.
The form of the report can be matched to the objectives of the project and can be done in phases (e.g., decisions about formal report and/or manuscript can be made upon completion of the SciPi).
When experts, or any group of people for that matter, are placed in a room to conduct a face-to-face deliberation, there are numerous and well known sources of negative heuristics that can significantly impact the outcome of the deliberations. These include:
In addition, in today’s adversarial environment, experts have been attacked for speaking their opinions on controversial topics. As a result, many experts simply ‘stay on the sidelines’ despite being some of the most knowledgeable experts on a given topic. For all these reasons, SciPinion designed a process and methodology for finding, selecting, and engaging panels of experts that eliminates the negative heuristics.
When we select a panel of experts for a peer review, we use an objective and quantitative metric of expertise and a model picks the panel. This process if completely objective, quantitative, transparent and reproducible. We do not assume or make any prejudgments about what the opinions of any particular expert will be. If a sponsor desires or requires certain diversity in demographics (e.g., region of residence, gender, sector of employment), the model can account for those requirements.
All engagements with experts occur online. We do this to eliminate the negative influences that occur with face to face meetings. While experts are working online within the SciPinion web app, the experts identity is not disclosed. Each expert is labeled sequentially Expert 1, Expert 2, and so on. This eliminates any undue influences by recognizing your peers and affords greater psychological safety. Upon completion of a peer review, disclosing of the identities of the experts can occur via three options (to be disclosed upon recruitment of experts); experts are identified but a key as to which expert is which is NOT provided (preferred approach), experts are identified and a key is provided to disclose which expert is which. On few occasions, particularly when the topic is so controversial that most experts would never want to be named, we can allow experts to remain anonymous in perpetuity. This is an extremely rare case.