Members of the Fully OA group all agree that peer review is a valuable and important process. But at a recent meeting of the Fully OA group the topic of “open” peer review was discussed and another consensus was reached – that the many flavors, or definitions, of “open” peer review likely causes confusion not only within the publishing community but, more importantly, for authors, reviewers, editors and readers alike.
This blog is written to share different examples from members of the Fully OA group, but also create a platform for further open discussion on this important topic.
Aspects of “open” peer review
We can split the concept of “open” peer review into three different aspects: open identities, open reports – or published peer review – and open participation, or community review.
Open identities refer to the anonymity – or otherwise – of people involved in peer review, both during and after the process of peer review. A huge amount of variation is evident across the Fully OA group’s portfolios, both during and after the peer review process, so much so that when surveyed, no two publishers listed the same option! Alternative terms include single anonymous (normally where the reviewers know the identity of the authors) and double anonymous (neither party knows the identity of the other, at least during the review process). Whilst we come across the use of single and double “blinded” peer review, most organizations have moved away from such ableist language. In the context of Identity “Open Peer Review” is sometimes used to refer to a process where author, reviewer and editor identities are known to each other throughout the process.
And to add a variation, are each party presented with the option to protect or make known their identity? Optionally open identities.
After peer review, open identities generally refers to whether or not the reviewer names are made public. Most members of the Fully OA group give this as an option for reviewers; the exceptions are JMIR, who always publish reviewer names alongside accepted articles (unless reviewers specifically ask not to be named, which is fairly rare), and eLife, who do not publish the identity of reviewers in their new model. At some publishers, this is linked to whether or not the authors choose to publish their peer review reports.
Open reports – also known as published peer review, peer review history and, of course, open peer review – refers to the publication of reviewer reports, and often editor decision letters and author responses, as an accompaniment to the published article. And once again, huge variation exists between each of us as publishers and, for some of us, across portfolios.
Optional open reports – where the author can choose whether or not to publish the full peer review history alongside their accepted article – is commonly implemented across the group. PeerJ moved from optional to mandatory published peer review for accepted articles earlier this year, whereas eLife’s new model no longer has a decision after peer review, and publishes the peer review of all articles that are sent for peer review. For journals participating in their open peer review format, Copernicus Publications has had mandatory published review reports for over 20 years, even if an article is finally rejected.
Often known as community review and sometimes as open peer review, open participation refers to a form of peer review where the article – often in the form of a preprint – is made openly available for anyone to review, sometimes on an entirely voluntary basis, and sometimes including invited reviewers. Copernicus Publications offer a blend of community review and invited peer review, whilst JMIR authors can decide on submission if they want to opt into Community peer-review; JMIRx overlay journals target specific communities with hashtags in preprints (hashtag communities).
Within community review, there is the additional variation of whether the reviews are publicly made available, or privately to the authors, with them having the option to make them public.
How we all do things differently in the Fully OA group
We all do peer review, but we do peer review differently – and with different terminology. Here’s an attempt to summarize our different approaches, as best as possible:
Click link to see table and further details https://fullyoapublishers.org/2023/06/08/the-many-flavors-of-open-peer-review/