Three of the Royal Society journals publish peer review information (such as reviewer reports, decision letter and response) alongside published articles. Following a positive response from the communities we serve, we plan to extend this to mandating publication of peer review reports for all published articles in Royal Society Open Science and Proceedings B.

The story so far…

In 2014, Royal Society Open Science launched with the option for authors to publish peer review information. Currently around two-thirds of articles are published alongside their peer review history.


Last year we introduced open peer review on Open Biology on a mandatory basis, where the reporting is anonymous by default but reviewers have the option to sign their names. The option of signing reports allows reviewers to claim credit for peer review work that can then be included in applications for funding and tenure. We have found that publishing reports leads to better peer review reporting with no negative effect on publication times or agreements to review manuscripts.

Other benefits include:

  • Readers can see the comments by reviewers and make up their mind if they agree or disagree. Readers also have the opportunity to comment post-publication on published research while in possession of more information. The published science can be improved (or on some occasions debunked) by encouraging post-publication commentary.
  • Reviewers’ suggestions to improve the paper are available to everyone as examples of what makes a good review. Reviewers might write better reviews if they know they get published. Reviewers’ reports also assist other researchers to avoid earlier pitfalls.
  • The whole peer review process becomes more trusted because everything is transparent.

In February at a meeting convened by ASAPbio, a group of 90 junior and senior scientists, publishers, editors, and funders endorsed “publishing the content of peer reviews (with or without the reviewers’ names) and making these reports a formal part of the scholarly record with an associated DOI”


What next?

We now plan to extend mandatory publication of peer review information to all published article on Royal Society Open Science and Proceedings B.

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 Royal Society Open Science and Proceedings B after 1st January 2019.



We are looking to publish more high quality research and review articles. Find out more about the benefits for authors.

Image credit: Max Pixel


2 Responses to “Publication of peer review reports”

  1. Sandra R. Schachat

    Having published in both Proc B and RSOS, I am extremely disappointed that the Royal Society has chosen to focus its efforts on open review rather than on double-blind review.

    A survey of thousands of authors found that 76%”indicated that double-blind peer review was the most effective method” ( ), so I find it disconcerting that you have instead chosen to follow a procedure endorsed in a statement signed by fewer than 100 researchers.

    Assigning DOIs to reviews, which themselves are not refereed, will allow unscrupulous reviewers to make false statements citable.

  2. Phil Hurst

    I am sorry that you are disappointed with this policy announcement.

    Our journals have discussed double-blind peer review many times and remain unconvinced about its efficacy in reducing bias. Instead we have focussed on increasing diversity of editors and reviewers and education in the problems of unconscious bias.

    The initiative to publish peer review information results from growing support from authors and reviewers. Over two-thirds of RSOS authors are opting for publication of peer review information. The move to make it mandatory is a logical next step. Another reason is to provide the opportunity for recognition for the important work of peer review: in the recent Publons survey, 83% of respondents stated that greater recognition and career incentives to peer review would have a positive/extremely positive impact on peer review.
    I am happy to discuss further offline.