Open peer review

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Open peer review is a process in which names of peer reviewers of papers submitted to academic journals are disclosed to the authors of the papers in question.[1][2] In some cases, as with the BMJ and BioMed Central, the process also involves posting the entire pre-publication history of the article online, including not only signed reviews of the article, but also its previous versions and author responses to the reviewers.[3][4]


There is no single definition of open peer review, as it is implemented differently by different academic journals, but it has been broadly defined as "any scholarly review mechanism providing disclosure of author and referee identities to one another at any point during the peer review or publication process".[5]


Possible advantages to an open peer-review system include reviewers being "more tactful and constructive" than they would be if they could remain anonymous.[6] It has also been argued that open review leads to more honest reviewing and prevents reviewers from following their individual agendas,[7] as well as leading to the detection of reviewers' conflicts of interests.[8] Some studies have also found that open peer review is associated with an increase in quality of reviews,[9] although other studies have not found such an association.[10] A study of BioMed Central medical journals, all of which use open peer review, found that reviewers usually did not notice problems or request changes in reporting of the results of randomized trials. The same study found most, but not all, of the requested changes had a positive effect on reporting.[11]


A 1999 study found that open peer review did not affect the quality of reviews or the recommendation regarding whether the paper being reviewed should be published, but that it "significantly increased the likelihood of reviewers declining to review".[2] Open review of abstracts tended to lead to bias favoring authors from English-speaking countries and prestigious academic institutions.[12] It has also been argued that open peer review could lead to authors accumulating enemies who try to keep their papers from being published or their grant applications from being successful.[6]


  1. ^ Walsh E, Rooney M, Appleby L, Wilkinson G (January 2000). "Open peer review: a randomised controlled trial". The British Journal of Psychiatry. 176 (1): 47–51. doi:10.1192/bjp.176.1.47. PMID 10789326.
  2. ^ a b van Rooyen S, Godlee F, Evans S, Black N, Smith R (January 1999). "Effect of open peer review on quality of reviews and on reviewers' recommendations: a randomised trial". BMJ. 318 (7175): 23–7. doi:10.1136/bmj.318.7175.23. PMC 27670. PMID 9872878.
  3. ^ "What is 'open peer review', as operated by the medical journals in the BMC series?". BioMed Central. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
  4. ^ Groves T, Loder E (September 2014). "Prepublication histories and open peer review at the BMJ". BMJ. 349 (sep03 13): g5394. doi:10.1136/bmj.g5394. PMID 25186622.
  5. ^ Ford E (2015-07-20). "Open peer review at four STEM journals: an observational overview". F1000Research. 4: 6. doi:10.12688/f1000research.6005.2. PMC 4350441. PMID 25767695.
  6. ^ a b Decoursey, Thomas (March 1999). "Pros and cons of open peer review". Nature Neuroscience. 2 (3): 197–8. doi:10.1038/nature04991. PMID 10195206.
  7. ^ "What is peer review?". Elsevier. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
  8. ^ Benos DJ, Bashari E, Chaves JM, Gaggar A, Kapoor N, LaFrance M, Mans R, Mayhew D, McGowan S, Polter A, Qadri Y, Sarfare S, Schultz K, Splittgerber R, Stephenson J, Tower C, Walton RG, Zotov A (June 2007). "The ups and downs of peer review". Advances in Physiology Education. 31 (2): 145–52. doi:10.1152/advan.00104.2006. PMID 17562902.
  9. ^ Lee CJ, Sugimoto CR, Zhang G, Cronin B (January 2013). "Bias in peer review". Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. 64 (1): 2–17. doi:10.1002/asi.22784.
  10. ^ van Rooyen S, Delamothe T, Evans SJ (November 2010). "Effect on peer review of telling reviewers that their signed reviews might be posted on the web: randomised controlled trial". BMJ. 341: c5729. doi:10.1136/bmj.c5729. PMC 2982798. PMID 21081600.
  11. ^ Hopewell S, Collins GS, Boutron I, Yu LM, Cook J, Shanyinde M, Wharton R, Shamseer L, Altman DG (July 2014). "Impact of peer review on reports of randomised trials published in open peer review journals: retrospective before and after study". BMJ. 349: g4145. doi:10.1136/bmj.g4145. PMC 4077234. PMID 24986891.
  12. ^ Ross JS, Gross CP, Desai MM, Hong Y, Grant AO, Daniels SR, Hachinski VC, Gibbons RJ, Gardner TJ, Krumholz HM (April 2006). "Effect of blinded peer review on abstract acceptance". JAMA. 295 (14): 1675–80. doi:10.1001/jama.295.14.1675. PMID 16609089.