Should reviews be open (all reviewer comments made publicly available) and transparent (reviewer identity disclosed to the authors and the public)?

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    • #2378 Score: 0

      Should reviewer comments be made publicly available? If yes, at which stage of the process?
      Should their identities be disclosed? If yes, only to the authors or also to the public? At which stage of the process should the identities of the reviewers be revealed?

    • #2433 Score: 0

      I would also add some other questions: in what format should reviews be made available? Will reviewers be allowed to review their reviews before being made public (a proofing process)? Does an Editor-in-Chief need to review the reviews before making them public?

      I’m all for transparency, and I’m particularly supportive of reviewers getting credit for the work they’ve done on accepted and rejected manuscripts, but I’m curious how valuable reviewer comments are to researchers (outside of the reviewed article authors) and how these comments will be used by the greater community.

    • #2437 Score: 4
      Stephanie Dawson
      5 pts

      At ScienceOpen we spent a very long time in the concept phase struggling with this question. Up until the last moment before release we were still debating whether we needed to add the possiblity to review anonymously. But in the end, on open system like ScienceOpen will only work if there is a high level of trust and that is only possible by publishing full reports and names of the reviewers. Otherwise every poor review will be assumed to be from an enemy and every good one from a friend. Even if it is not true, any trust in the objectivity of such reports is completely lost. In our system we publish first and then review openly afterwards, so the point of the review is to both help the author to improve their paper and to bring up further questions and ideas for public discussion. Therefore no one’s publication is depending on the reviewer’s comments and it is up to the author to reply and revise as they see fit.

    • #2443 Score: 1
      Daniel Shanahan
      1 pt

      Anecdotal evidence suggests that the reviewer agreement rate is slightly lower for open peer review; however, Kowalczuk and colleagues recently published some research on this, comparing the quality of reviews for open peer review models and single blind model, using the Reciew Quality Instrument. Interestingly, the study suggests that open peer reviews are of better quality:

    • #2471 Score: 1
      1 pt

      The aim of Open Scholar should be to ensure open discussion on a paper, so that the quality of knowledge creation improves. This requires that the review comments and comments on comments should be publicly available throughout the review stage so that the author, potential reviewers, and other interested persons can freely discuss on the paper and also on the points raised by reviewers. The review process should however stop after a reasonable stage, so as not to drag it indefinitely. The goals of an open review system will be served better if all the contents are open to public at all stages so that the way the thoughts had developed before publication could be accessed even after publication. This would not only motivate and guide others in future but also help future researchers interested in history of the subject. The issues of disclosure of identity of a reviewer and the stage of disclosure are better left to the reviewer. If the reviewer wants her/his identity not be disclosed at all, then that should be respected. There could be an argument that some ‘enemy’ reviewers might give negative comments anonymously. I would argue that if the anonymous comments are valid then the scientific community would have lost those insights had the disclosure of identity been mandatory. On the other hand, if the anonymous comments are not genuine and meant only to harass the author then the scientific community is intelligent enough to figure that out. So no benefit would accrue to the scientific community or to the knowledge creation activity by making disclosure mandatory at some stage. Actually if a reviewer wants her/his name to be confidential then it is she/he who loses the credit for her/his labour. So there must be some valid reason for any request for anonymity. Here I would like to refer to an article titled ‘Kotler is dead!’ by Alan Smithee published in European Journal of Marketing. The author is anonymous, there is no real person named Alan Smithee. Still the prestigious journal published the article as the theme is very interesting and pertinent. The article depicts how difficult it is to say/write something against an influential person. Any ‘Alan’ writing against any ‘Kotler’ would not get a place on this earth to stand on. Mandatory disclosure of identity at any stage would drive away any genuine adverse comments against papers of influential authors, which would then get accepted with favourable reviews only, even if the research is bogus. Therefore, anonymity might be essential in some cases. The reviewers should therefore be given a chance to indicate their option about whether their identity should be disclosed and if yes, when. Most reviewers would of course agree for disclosure since they would get the credit for their contribution only if they disclose their identity.

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