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New guidelines for journals advise how to implement open peer review

Study and research - flat design style illustrationWith an increasing demand for transparency within scientific publishing, many journals are moving away from traditional blinded peer review towards more open systems. In an article published in Research Integrity and Peer Review, Tony Ross-Hellauer and Edit Görögh present best-practice guidelines, developed to assist editors and publishers to transition to open peer review.

Firstly, the authors identify 7 key forms of open review:

  1. Open identities: identities of authors and reviewers are known to one another;
  2. Open reports: peer review comments are published alongside an article;
  3. Open participation: involvement of the wider community;
  4. Open interaction: discussions between authors and reviewers;
  5. Open pre-review manuscripts: manuscripts are available prior to peer review;
  6. Open final version commenting: the final version can still be reviewed and commented on;
  7. Open platforms: the review is conducted by an organisation other than the publisher.

They go on to describe how each form of review is associated with both advantages and disadvantages. For example, ‘open identities’ may increase accountability, lead to a more thorough review and allow potential conflicts of interest to be identified, but could also discourage reviewers from voicing strong criticisms.

Regarding specific guidance, which was created in close consultation with a group of experts, Ross-Hellauer and Görögh advise editors to identify which elements of open review they wish to utilise and recommend that editors set clear goals outlining what they hope to achieve by implementing such systems. The authors highlight the need to consider the technological feasibility and cost implications of open peer review and suggest that new processes are made optional initially or introduced in a phased manner. Communication and engagement with the community, and identification of academics to advocate open peer review are also recommended. In addition, publishers are advised to evaluate performance, by measuring review quality and acceptance rates.

The authors note that open peer review processes are becoming adopted by a growing number of journals and it is their hope that these guidelines will ‘prove useful in setting expectations and guiding best-practice’.

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Summary by Debbie Sherwood BSc from Aspire Scientific

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With thanks to our sponsors, Aspire Scientific Ltd and NetworkPharma Ltd


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