Peer review is an important step in publishing scientific or academic work. By bringing subject matter experts to evaluate the research and assess its validity, quality, and significance, journals can publish articles that align with their scope and quality. Each journal has a different type of peer review; we’ll dig into these today, plus some merits and drawbacks of each.
A single-anonymized peer review is when the author doesn’t know who the reviewer is, but the reviewer knows who the author is. This type of peer review is common among science and medical journals. A single-anonymized peer review aims to give the reviewer ease in providing honest feedback.
Merits: The reviewer can freely critique the article without comment or challenge from the author. The reviewer may better understand the research’s context by knowing the author’s identity.
Drawbacks: Because the reviewer knows the author, their review may be biased and less objective. This type of peer review exposes authors to regional, gender, and racial discrimination. Also, authors may feel defenseless against reviewers’ criticism, whereas the latter benefit from anonymity.
In a double-anonymized review, the most common type of peer review used by social science and humanities journals, the reviewer and author don’t know each other. Names, affiliations, and credentials are removed to keep the identities unknown.
Merits: This type of peer review makes it easy to avoid discrimination and bias against the author. And as neither the reviewer nor the author knows who the other is, they won’t have to worry about receiving negative comments or pressure.
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Drawbacks: For the reviewer, understanding the research may be more challenging without knowing the author’s credentials or background. And, of course, if the author is well known or if the reviewer has read the author’s work before, they might be able to guess their identity based on writing style, content, etc.
Open Peer Review
The author and reviewer know each other’s identity in an open peer review. All aspects of the review process are revealed, and some journals publish the reviewer’s comments and the author’s responses. Open peer reviews are less common among scientific and academic journals.
Merits: The transparency of open peer reviews promotes reviewers’ accountability. They may feel more inclined to write thoughtful reviews, as their peers will be subject to scrutiny and pressure. It could be argued that open peer reviews are more ethical because the author isn’t judged by someone they don’t know and can’t defend their ideas.
Drawbacks: Because the reviewer’s information is publicized, they may be subjected to academic pressures. This may lead them to refrain from giving their honest opinion or strong critique.
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