Nature is trialling transparent peer review — the early results are encouraging

Close-up of two scientists writing chemical formulas on glass board and discussing them in team.

In accordance with one examine, reviewers in whole do tens of thousands and thousands of hours of peer evaluate every year.Credit score: Getty

Analysis papers are the product of prolonged discussions between authors and reviewers — guided by editors. These peer-review conversations can final for months at a time and are important to progress in analysis. There may be widespread settlement that the robustness and readability of papers are enhanced on this course of.

Peer-review exchanges are largely stored confidential, that means that the broader analysis neighborhood and the world have few alternatives to study what is claimed in them. Such opacity can gas perceptions of secrecy in publishing — and leaves reviewers and their key position in science publication underappreciated. It additionally robs early-career researchers of the chance to interact with examples of the inside workings of a course of that’s key to their profession growth.

In an try to vary issues, Nature Communications has since 2016 been encouraging authors to publish peer-review exchanges. In February 2020, and to the widespread approval of Twitter’s science neighborhood, Nature introduced that it will provide an identical alternative. Authors of latest manuscript submissions can now have nameless referee reviews — and their very own responses to those reviews — revealed concurrently their manuscript. Those that comply with act as reviewers know that each nameless reviews and anonymized exchanges with authors may be revealed. Referees may select to be named, ought to they need.

A full yr’s knowledge are actually in, and the outcomes are encouraging. Throughout 2021, almost half (46%) of authors selected to publish their discussions with reviewers, though there’s variation between disciplines (see ‘Peer evaluate opens up’). Early knowledge recommend extra will achieve this in 2022. This can be a promising development. And we strongly encourage extra researchers to take this chance to publish their exchanges. Final yr, some 69% of Nature Communication’s revealed analysis articles have been accompanied by nameless peer-review reviews along with creator–reviewer exchanges, together with manuscripts in life sciences (73% of revealed papers), chemistry (59%), physics (64%) and Earth sciences (77%).

Peer review opens up: Chart showing percentage of research articles published with peer-review exchanges by research field.

Supply: Springer Nature

The advantages to analysis are enormous. Opening up peer evaluate promotes extra transparency, and is effective to researchers who examine peer-review programs. Additionally it is precious to early-career researchers extra broadly. Every set of reviews is a real-life instance, a information to easy methods to present authors with constructive suggestions in a collegial method.

Publishing peer-review exchanges, as well as, acknowledges the trouble that goes into the endeavour. Peer evaluate is integral to being a researcher. Making reviewers’ work public illustrates the lengths that researchers will go within the service of scholarship. In accordance with one examine, reviewers in whole do tens of thousands and thousands of hours of peer evaluate every year (B. Aczel et al. Res. Integr. Peer Rev. 6, 14; 2021). But this contribution isn’t acknowledged in analysis analysis programs. As we’ve got reported, there’s rising curiosity in reforming these programs to raised signify how science is finished. If extra researchers comply with open up their peer-review exchanges, we are able to all play an element in making that occur.

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