We recognise the power of publishing peer review information and several of our journals have signed up to doing this through the ASAPBio open letter. Following a positive response from the communities we serve, Proceedings B and Royal Society Open Science plan to make the editorial process of papers as transparent as possible by mandating the publication of peer review reports on all manuscripts submitted from 2 January 2019.
A growing appetite to increase openness in science
Traditional peer review is a relatively private affair, with reviewer reports seen by only a handful of individuals and the name of the reviewer seen by even fewer. The move towards greater transparency in science has led to a number of journals adopting a more open model of peer review. Royal Society Open Science launched in 2014, encouraging authors to publish peer review information and around two-thirds of articles were published alongside their peer review history by 2018. Open Biology also introduced open peer review on a mandatory basis last year, where the reporting was anonymous by default but reviewers had the option to sign their names. This is win-win for reviewers: their identity is protected if they have concerns about providing critical comments to more senior colleagues; alternatively, if they sign they can get credit for the specific report and include this in their Publons profile or ORCID record. Recognition of peer review work is becoming increasingly important in grant, tenure and career development. We have found that publishing reports leads to better peer review reporting with no negative effect on publication times or agreements to review manuscripts in either journal.
Benefits of publishing peer review reports
• The entire review process gains more trust with transparency and makes the editors and reviewers accountable for the peer review and the decision-making process.
• Readers can see the comments by reviewers and make up their mind if they agree or disagree.
• Readers have the opportunity to comment post-publication in possession of more information.
• The published science can be improved (or on occasion debunked).
• By signing their reports, reviewers can get the recognition they deserve for this vital activity, via peer review recognition services including Publons and ORCID.
How will it work?
Reviewer reports, decision letter, and associated author responses will published alongside published articles. Reviewer reports will be anonymous, and although we do encourage reviewers to sign their reports, this will be voluntary. Authors will have recourse to opt out of open peer review only if sufficient reason is provided to the handling editors. Reviewer reports will be made public under an open access licence, CC-BY.
When will it start?
This policy will apply to all new articles submitted to Proceedings B and Royal Society Open Science from 2 January 2019.
If you are interested in reviewing for Proceedings B, Royal Society Open Science or any other Royal Society journal, find out about the benefits of reviewing for our journals on our website.
Image credit – Max Pixel.