Is it Time to Pull Back the Curtain from Peer Review?

Double-blind and single-blind processes continue to dominate academic peer review. Too often this results in a ‘black box’ – a system without sufficient transparency for authors, readers and reviewers alike. Hopefully one day fully transparent (and even public) peer review will come to be seen as acceptable throughout the world of academic publishing. For now we must take small steps to break down this barrier, just as Cureus works to break down barriers to publication.

That’s why Cureus provides authors with the ability to reach out directly to invited peer reviewers with a personal message before peer review begins. Yes it is quite unorthodox for an author to make a personal plea to reviewers to complete expeditious reviews, so why do we seek to encourage it?

  1. A personal request is at some level harder to ignore, and therefore more effectively motivates reviewers and speeds up the process, than a request coming from a “faceless” journal.
  2. The author is blinded to the exact reviewer panel as each author is expected to invite at least five reviewers and the editorial team invites a similar number of other reviewers. With this many “potential” reviewers, it is easy to argue that the author will never be exactly sure who reviewed their article, so in effect, authors are blind to the exact reviewer’s name.
  3. Cureus still believes and hopes someday to validate that it is not the primary review process that ensures article quality but the secondary review, ala SIQ, which should therefore be deemed the best arbiter of quality, and this is a feature that other journals lack.

These rationale may be less than perfect, but they summarize our current thinking, yet as we all know, there isn’t a perfect journal or system for peer review.

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