For researchers, publishing is an academic necessity. But before publication comes peer review – with subject experts (“peers”) making crucial decisions about the quality of a work. And often about international career prospects, too. However, according to critics, traditional peer review is far from perfect. Where reviewers are anonymous and review reports not published, unfair decisions cannot be held to scrutiny. In response, there are growing calls to implement Open Peer Review. “Peer Review is our most important means of scientific quality assurance”, says Open Science researcher Dr. Tony Ross-Hellauer of the Know-Center, Austria. “Proponents of Open Peer Review think it shouldn’t happen in the shadows. Innovations like revealing reviewer names and publishing review reports could bring transparency to review processes, potentially increasing the fairness and quality of reviews.”
A majority of researchers (60.3 percent) now believe Open Peer Review should be mainstream practice, according to the first major study of the subject, led by Ross-Hellauer for the OpenAIRE2020 project. On the 13th December 2017, the results of the study, which surveyed the views of 3,062 researchers, will be published in the Open Access journal PLOS ONE. The same study found high levels of support for other areas of Open Science. 88.2 percent were in favour of Open Access to publications, while 80.3 percent have a positive view of Open Data – that is, research data made available online without restrictions.
In addition, the survey showed strong support for most of the traits of Open Peer Review. Measures like enabling greater interaction between reviewers and authors, publishing review reports, and crowd-sourcing reviews were strongly favoured. However most respondents remained sceptical about opening reviewer identities to authors. The study also shows that satisfaction with differing methods of peer review varies across disciplines. Said Dr. Birgit Schmidt, Senior Researcher at Göttingen State and University Library and co-author of the study, “These results are very positive for Open Peer Review’s prospects of moving into the mainstream, but show that no one-size-fits-all solution is desirable – care must be taken to listen to the positions of different scholarly communities”.
The manuscript can be downloaded here.
Reference: Ross-Hellauer, T., Deppe, A. & Schmidt, B. (2017). Survey on Open Peer Review: Attitudes and experience amongst editors, authors and reviewers. PLOS ONE. doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0189311
Dr. Tony Ross-Hellauer
Inffeldgasse 13, 6th floor, 8010 Graz, Austria
Phone +43-316-873-32800 Fax +43-316-873-1030815