Thursday, December 6, 2007

LAMPSS: Lots of Alternative Models Provide Sensible Solutions. I: Open Peer Review

LAMPSS: Lots of Alternative Models Provide Sensible Solutions

[1] Open Peer Review

During much of its recent history, conventional peer review has been wholly or partially anonymous. In the former arrangement, neither reviewer nor the author is known to each other; in the latter, the author is identified. Until five years ago, the British Medical Journal (BMJ), the high-impact, general medical journal of the British Medical Association, had "used a closed system of peer review, where the authors do not know who has reviewed their papers ... but the reviewers do, however, know the names of the authors."In announcing a change in its editorial policy, Richard Smith, the BMJ editor further observes that

Most medical journals use the same system, ... based on custom not evidence. Now we plan to let authors know the identity of reviewers. Soon we are likely to open up the whole system so that anybody interested can see the whole process on the World Wide Web. The change is based on evidence and an ethical argument.

He further notes that "the primary argument against closed peer review is that it seems wrong for somebody making an important judgment on the work of others to do so in secret." In a supportive argument, Smith quotes Drummond Rennie, a deputy editor of JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, stating that identifying the reviewer links "privilege and duty, by reminding the reviewer that with power comes responsibility: that the scientist invested with the mantle of the judge cannot be arbitrary in his or her judgment and must be a constructive critic."

Journals that have implemented open peer review include not only the British Medical Journal (, but also select journals published by BioMed Central (, as well as Internet Health: Journal of Research, Application, Communication & Ethics, (, among others.


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