Link of the week: “How anonymous peer review fails to do its job and damages science.”

In his text in the Open Science Collaboration blog, Prof. Jan P. de Ruiter comments on the apparent drawbacks of the anonymous peer-review (AP) process in science publishing. He recites an ideed very popular phrase abut AP:

It may have its flaws, but it’s the ‘least bad’ of all possible systems.

The examples about partially insulting and unfair reviews that result from the current AP system are, after my experience, true in their tendency. I very much appreciate that de Ruiter also offers alternatives which he applies for himself, when possible.

Rule a) Reviewers with tenure always sign their reviews.

Rule b) Reviews are stored, and all researchers have the explicit right to look up and cite reviews. If the author of a certain review is anonymous, so be it. Call them “reviewer 3 in submission so-and-so to journal X”, but at least this allows researchers to address and discuss their arguments in the papers. I often notice that reviewers have a very strong influence on papers, by requesting that certain points be addressed before they advise acceptance. This epistemic tug-of-war between reviewers and authors often results in needless meandering and bad rhetorical flow.

The full text can be found here.

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