Four Pillars of Open Science: Open Peer Review

This is the second blog post from our new series exploring Open Science, placing the spotlight on each of the four pillars that form its foundation. This week, in acknowledgment of Peer Review Week, our post will focus on Open Peer Review.

Peer Review Week is a global event that brings together the academic community to discuss ways in which this pivotal stage in the publication workflow can be most effectively managed and recognised. The theme for this year’s event is 'Transparency in Review'.

Defining “Transparency” and “Open Peer Review”

In a kick off event for Peer Review Week this week, Alice Meadows moderated a panel – Under the Microscope: Transparency in Peer Review- comprised of Irene Hames (independent peer review and publication ethics expert), Elizabeth Moylan (BioMed Central), Andrew Preston (Publons), and Carly Strasser (Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation). Alice asked the panellists in advance of the event what “transparency” meant to them, which resulted in a wide range of perspectives:

To me, transparency in peer review means making clear to everyone the how, what and why behind editorial decision-making. […]Why can’t making reviewer reports and author responses available with articles become the norm? “- Irene Hames

For me, the term ‘transparent peer review’ has the precise meaning that the content of a reviewer report is posted alongside a final published article but no information about the reviewer identity is provided.” – Elizabeth Moylan

To me, transparency is about making sure that we are able to reveal the information necessary to bring a level of trust and efficiency to the peer review process.” – Andrew Preston

[Transparent peer review] would allow junior scientists to better understand the process of peer review, would result in more useful and thoughtful reviews (since the reviewer knows her/his review will be read by many), and can spark conversations and collaborations that might not have otherwise occurred. It would also permit credit for reviewers, which currently is a service that is performed without incentives or rewards.” - Carly Strasser

Those who may have missed the event can catch up on Twitter via #AskPRW, or view the recording of the live stream on the @PeerRevWeek channel

In a recent article published in F1000Research, Tony Ross-Hellauer conducts a systematic review of scientific literature, aiming to establish a standardised definition of Open Peer Review. Ross-Hellauer analysed the corpus of existing definitions of “Open Peer Review” and “Open Review” and identified seven core traits, visible in up to twenty-two distinct configurations. The author proposed the following definition based on his findings:

OPR definition: Open peer review is an umbrella term for a number of overlapping ways that peer review models can be adapted in line with the ethos of Open Science, including making reviewer and author identities open, publishing review reports and enabling greater participation in the peer review process. The full list of traits is:

  • Open identities: Authors and reviewers are aware of each other’s identity.
  • Open reports: Review reports are published alongside the relevant article.
  • Open participation: The wider community to able to contribute to the review process.
  • Open interaction: Direct reciprocal discussion between author(s) and reviewers, and/or between reviewers, is allowed and encouraged.
  • Open pre-review manuscripts: Manuscripts are made immediately available (e.g., via pre-print servers like arXiv) in advance of any formal peer review procedures.
  • Open final-version commenting: Review or commenting on final “version of record” publications.
  • Open platforms: Review is de-coupled from publishing in that it is facilitated by a different organizational entity than the venue of publication.

Much work remains to be done in establishing a consensus on the definition of “Open Peer Review” but the academic community is engaged in the task and debates on “Transparent vs. Blind” are likely to continue to be a hot topic for the foreseeable future.

4open's policy on Open Peer Review

Open Peer Review is encouraged by the journal. 4open believes that total transparency provides a holistic view of a published piece of work, allowing for more thorough critical evaluation.

The journal also acknowledges, however, that the academic community is divided on whether the perceived advantages outweigh the perceived disadvantages of complete transparency, and so a traditional closed peer review model is also available on request.

The model of peer review chosen will not affect the quality of the review; each article will be thoroughly evaluated before acceptance in line with the 4open ethical standards explained in the author information section on this site.

Upcoming Events

Want to learn more about Open Peer Review? Here are a few events that may be of interest:

Did you miss the first post in this series, where we signposted useful resources on the topic of Open Access? Read it here.

Next in the series, we will discuss Open Data.

Keep up-to-date with 4open news and blogs by following 4open on Twitter: @4openjournal