Open peer review: promoting transparency in open science

Authors : Dietmar Wolfram, Peiling Wang, Adam Hembree, Hyoungjoo Park

Open peer review (OPR), where review reports and reviewers’ identities are published alongside the articles, represents one of the last aspects of the open science movement to be widely embraced, although its adoption has been growing since the turn of the century.

This study provides the first comprehensive investigation of OPR adoption, its early adopters and the implementation approaches used. Current bibliographic databases do not systematically index OPR journals, nor do the OPR journals clearly state their policies on open identities and open reports.

Using various methods, we identified 617 OPR journals that published at least one article with open identities or open reports as of 2019 and analyzed their wide-ranging implementations to derive emerging OPR practices.

The findings suggest that: (1) there has been a steady growth in OPR adoption since 2001, when 38 journals initially adopted OPR, with more rapid growth since 2017; (2) OPR adoption is most prevalent in medical and scientific disciplines (79.9%); (3) five publishers are responsible for 81% of the identified OPR journals; (4) early adopter publishers have implemented OPR in different ways, resulting in different levels of transparency.

Across the variations in OPR implementations, two important factors define the degree of transparency: open identities and open reports. Open identities may include reviewer names and affiliation as well as credentials; open reports may include timestamped review histories consisting of referee reports and author rebuttals or a letter from the editor integrating reviewers’ comments.

When and where open reports can be accessed are also important factors indicating the OPR transparency level. Publishers of optional OPR journals should add metric data in their annual status reports.

URL : Open peer review: promoting transparency in open science