Types of Peer Review

Last week we discussed peer review in general terms. You can find that article here. This week, we’re going to discuss different types of peer review in depth.

There are three main types of peer review: open peer review, single-blind, and double-blind.

 Open Peer Review

Open Peer Review is exactly what it sounds like: open. The reviewer’s and the author’s names are shared with each other. There is a growing interest in this type of review. The idea of peer-to-peer review works well in today’s wiki-minded, crowd-sourcing, collaborative types of technology. Transparency is also an aspect of open peer review that appeals to many people. Many people also feel that this process keeps the reviewer(s) honest and frees up any malicious or overly negative comments. And the rapidity of responses and ability to discuss material and/or revision faster is also a positive. However, independent studies have shown that this process garners fewer constructive comments, especially from less experienced reviewers who may be afraid of the damage to their reputations.

 Single-Blind Peer Review

Single-Blind Peer Review gives the name of the author to the reviewers, but the author does not learn the name of the reviewers. Single-blind review is supposed to fix the problems that result from open review by freeing the reviewers from fear of offending the author. However, this form of peer review also has its drawbacks. The primary drawback is that a reviewer may be overly harsh or critical due to the anonymity of the situation.

 Double-Blind Peer Review

In Double-Blind Peer Review, the names of the author and the reviewers are kept secret from each other. Double-blind review is supposed to fix the problems resulting from single-blind review. By withholding the identities of the reviewers and of the author, double-blind review judges a paper by its quality alone. However, in the larger world, it is uncertain if there can ever be a truly blind review process. Many authors’ writing styles and subject matters are so specific that it is truly difficult to make any reviewing process blind. The time required for this type of review can be significantly higher, leading to longer production times and ultimately increasing the time from submission to publication. This increase in time may mean that the material being review is no longer relevant or popular.

Here at the University Press, we currently use a double-blind process. We’ve chosen this style because we feel that judging a paper based solely on its inherent qualities is a far better way to eliminate any reviewer bias that may wedge its way in. However, as the technology advances, more options are becoming available and are becoming more and more attractive.

So what is the best option? We here at UPNG want to delve deeper into this question and explore all the possibilities. That is one mission of the workshop that we will be hosting on November 16th. Keep up with our discussion and join in with your opinions on twitter using the hashtag #UPNGDigiPub–we will be tweeting daily until the event and will be tweeting throughout the workshop itself.