Does author prestige influence peer review?
A recent research study (NCT02739737) published as a letter in JAMA has investigated whether author prestige affects the outcome of peer review. The study was conducted at Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research (CORR), a journal which allows authors to select single-blind review (where authors’ identities are known to the peer reviewers) or double-blind review (where authors’ identities are masked). Researchers fabricated a manuscript using two prestigious surgeons from prominent institutions as the alleged authors and sent the paper to peer reviewers via CORR. One hundred and nineteen reviewers completed a review of the manuscript. These reviewers had previously given consent to take part in the study but were unaware at the time of review that the manuscript was part of the study. Half of the participants reviewed a single-blind version and the other half reviewed a double-blind version of the manuscript.
Reviewers were more likely to recommend acceptance of the manuscript when the prestigious authors’ identities and institutions were known than when they were not (87% vs 68%, p=0.02). Higher ratings for the Methods, Results and Discussion sections were also given when the authors’ identities were known. The number of intentionally placed errors detected did not differ between the two groups.
Summary by Philippa Flemming, PhD from Aspire Scientific.
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