How is your discipline tracking in open peer review?

Who’s more likely to share reviewer reports and identities – in 5 graphs.

24 June 2020

Gemma Conroy

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Medical and health sciences journals are leading the way in the adoption of open peer review, a new study has found.

Open peer review, which involves publishing peer review reports and reviewer identities alongside journal articles, has been gaining traction over the last two decades as a way of tackling recognized problems in the traditional peer review process, such as lack of transparency and accountability.

In an analysis of 617 open peer review journals – defined as those that have published peer review reports and reviewer identities alongside at least one article - medical and health sciences journals accounted for almost half (42%).

Natural sciences journals followed, accounting for 38%.

The team behind the study, led by information scientist Dietmar Wolfram from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, investigated the adoption of open peer review practices between 2001 and 2019.

According to the study, the adoption of open peer review has grown steadily over the past two decades, rising from 38 journals in 2001 to 617 in 2019.

Medical and health sciences journals not only account for the largest percentage of journals with open peer review, but were also the earliest adopters.

In 2001, 36 medical and health sciences journals had already implemented open peer review practices, compared with just one journal in the natural sciences and one in the social sciences.

The study found that more than 60% of medical and health sciences journals mandate the practice of open peer review.

Multidisciplinary and natural sciences journals followed, at 50% and 37%, respectively.

Medical and health sciences journals are also more likely to reveal reviewer identities, with roughly 57% making this a requirement.

By contrast, only 15% of technology journals have mandated the sharing of reviewer identities.

The study, published in Scientometrics, found that five publishers accounted for 81% of journals with open peer review practices.

Four of those publishers are headquartered in Europe.

This reflects the continent’s leadership in the open science movement, the authors of the study write.

“Publishers based in other countries … have been slower to adopt forms of open peer review,” the authors write.

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