Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Open Peer Review Better Quality Than Blind Route

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Open Peer Review Better Quality Than Blind Route

Article excerpt

Open peer review produces better scrutiny of research than traditional methods, according to a new study.

Reviews were found to be of slightly higher quality - about 5 per cent better - when authors could see who had reviewed their papers and these assessments were made available with the published article.

Researchers compared 400 papers in two similar journals: BMC Infectious Diseases, which uses open peer review, and BMC Microbiology, which uses the common "single-blind" process where reviewers know the identity of the author but the author does not know who they are being reviewed by.

Judged using a scorecard of eight criteria, the open reviews were of moderately better quality than the single-blind reviews, according to the paper published in the journal BMJ Open.

One of the arguments for anonymity during the review process is that reviewers are able to be more frank in their assessments without fear of retribution from colleagues; or, in the "double-blind" process where both are anonymous, reviewers simply look at the content of the paper, rather than being influenced by biases or preconceptions about the author.

But according to one of the new paper's authors, Maria Kowalczuk, biology editor of the research integrity group at publisher Biomed Central, when reviews were in the open, "reviewers know their reviews are going to be published" and so this might mean quality becomes "slightly better". …

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