Publishing the scientific article reviews does not alter the evaluation of these works, according to an international research led by the University of Valencia

  • Scientific Culture and Innovation Unit
  • January 29th, 2019
 
Emilia López Iñesta, researcher of the Faculty of Teacher Training, and Francisco Grimaldo, researcher and teacher of the School of Engineering of the University of Valencia.
Emilia López Iñesta, researcher of the Faculty of Teacher Training, and Francisco Grimaldo, researcher and teacher of the School of Engineering of the University of Valencia.

An article published in the journal Nature Communications with the participation of Francisco Grimaldo (School of Engineering) and Emilia López Iñesta (Faculty of Teacher Training), of the University of Valencia, concludes that the fact that the evaluators know that theirs reports will be published, without revealing their names, does not compromise the recommendations, the tone or the return time of the revisions. This study contradicts other recent searches in which various forms of open review have had a negative effect on the review.

The investigation, on 18,525 evaluations in five magazines of the Editorial Elsevier, also emphasises that only the 8.1% of the referees accepted to reveal their identity in addition to publishing the revisions.

This research takes place within the framework of a European project, «PEERE: New frontiers of peer review», which is investigating the data generated in the review of scientific articles prior to publication (peer review) with the aim of increasing transparency in science. The ETSE-UV is in charge of the hosting, management and processing of all the data of this project, in which the universities of Milan (Italy) and Linnaeus (Sweden) also participate.

Among the conclusions of the work published also stands out that the younger reviewers and with less academic qualification have been more willing to accept the review being public and to publish their name. It has also been found that this group promoted more positive and objective recommendations. Similarly, in percentage terms, more men than women have tended to write reports with a more positive tone.

Therefore, conclusions suggest that the open (published) peer review does not compromise the internal functioning of the peer review system. In the case of revisions made by younger people, it is understood that who is at the beginning of his/her academic career can show a greater predisposition to positive assessments about people with whom they could collaborate in the future.

This research emerges in the current context of an increasing demand for transparency and accountability of the internal processes of review of articles in scientific journals by the academic world and pressure groups against the classic peer review model. This consists in the fact that expert and independent scientific personnel that want to communicate (at least two) determine whether the work is publishable or not, anonymously, with the aim of avoiding conflicts of interest or prior knowledge between authors and evaluators.

In front of this system, some magazines have begun using the open peer review, a model with which evaluation reports are published related to the publication that you want to appear in a specific magazine, and also, sometimes, the name of who evaluates it.

Regarding the anonymity of reviews, Francisco Grimaldo and Emilia López Iñesta emphasise that it remains key in the open review process they have proposed in their analysis. “It is likely to reflect the need for protection against possible reprisals or other unforeseen implications of an open review”, they emphasised. In addition, recent research on the attitudes of scientists towards an open review reveals that in areas such as humanities and social sciences, research staff is more sceptical.

In addition, the article emphasises that it is likely that open-ended peer review may influence the article’s author’s behaviour and the publication strategies, making magazines more or less attractive also based on the type of review and its level of transparency.

 

Article:

Bravo, Giangiacomo Bravo et al. «The effect of publishing peer review reports on referee behavior in five scholarly journals». Nature Communications (2019) 10:322 doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-08250-2

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