Authors : Mike Thelwall, Verena Weigert, Liz Allen, Zena Nyakoojo, Eleanor-Rose Papas
This study examines whether there is any evidence of bias in two areas of common critique of open, non-anonymous peer review – and used in the post-publication, peer review system operated by the open-access scholarly publishing platform F1000Research.
First, is there evidence of bias where a reviewer based in a specific country assesses the work of an author also based in the same country? Second, are reviewers influenced by being able to see the comments and know the origins of previous reviewer?
Scrutinising the open peer review comments published on F1000Research, we assess the extent of two frequently cited potential influences on reviewers that may be the result of the transparency offered by a fully attributable, open peer review publishing model: the national affiliations of authors and reviewers, and the ability of reviewers to view previously-published reviewer reports before submitting their own.
The effects of these potential influences were investigated for all first versions of articles published by 8 July 2019 to F1000Research. In 16 out of the 20 countries with the most articles, there was a tendency for reviewers based in the same country to give a more positive review.
The difference was statistically significant in one. Only 3 countries had the reverse tendency. Second, there is no evidence of a conformity bias. When reviewers mentioned a previous review in their peer review report, they were not more likely to give the same overall judgement.
Although reviewers who had longer to potentially read a previously published reviewer reports were slightly less likely to agree with previous reviewer judgements, this could be due to these articles being difficult to judge rather than deliberate non-conformity.