Open peer review - transparent way of gatekeeping science

What is this about?

Open peer review can mean a few different things. It can be a process in which names of the peer reviewers of papers submitted to academic journals are disclosed to the authors of the papers in question. Sometimes the review texts are published with the accepted papers, and in some forms of open peer review, the reviewers’ names are published along with their comments (1).

Why is this important?

Open peer review is slowly becoming the norm. Nowadays, journals often disclose the names of the reviewers to the authors, and even publish all of the reviewers’ comments if the article is accepted for publication. This kind of practice makes misconduct in peer review much more difficult, since the reviewers’ names are known to more people than just the editor. Also, it is considered that reviewers will be more mindful if their names are known, and leave thoughtful comments and constructive criticism (as they should). Not all research areas are equally open to open peer review, especially to disclosing the reviewer identities to authors (2).

For whom is this important?

Scientists, Researchers, Journal publishers, Journal editors, Reviewers

What are the best practices?

One example of adaption of open peer review policies in seen in BMC series journals. BMC begun with open peer review in 1999, and since then has promoted the benefits of peer review and developed different variations and options in peer review system. On top of that, they have decided to move beyond “prescription” of peer review patterns and instructions, and have started publishing a journal called Research Integrity and Peer Review, whose main focus is on research on peer review. Recently, the very same journal has published an article on guidelines for the implementation of open peer review, with a checklist aimed at making the implementation of peer review easier. This was developed mostly for editors, but for those who are still unfamiliar with open peer review, there are plenty of long (e.g. FOSTER course on open peer review) and short (3) educational materials.


1. Ross-Hellauer T. What is open peer review? A systematic review. Version 2. F1000Res. 2017 Apr 27 [revised 2017 Aug 31];6:588. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.11369.2.

2. Ross-Hellauer T, Deppe A, Schmidt B. Survey on open peer review: Attitudes and experience amongst editors, authors and reviewers. PLoS One. 2017;12(12):e0189311. doi: 0.1371/journal.pone.0189311.

3. Ross-Heallauer, T, Görögh, E. Guidelines for open peer review implementation. Res Int Peer Rev. 2019;4:4.

Ivan Buljan contributed to this theme.

Latest contribution was May 29, 2019