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 line with one examine, reviewers in complete do tens of thousands and thousands of hours of peer assessment 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 principally stored confidential, which means that the broader analysis group and the world have few alternatives to study what is alleged 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 interior workings of a course of that’s key to their profession improvement.

In an try to alter 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 group, Nature introduced that it might supply an analogous alternative. Authors of recent manuscript submissions can now have nameless referee experiences — and their very own responses to those experiences — revealed concurrently their manuscript. Those that comply with act as reviewers know that each nameless experiences and anonymized exchanges with authors could be revealed. Referees may select to be named, ought to they want.

A full yr’s information are actually in, and the outcomes are encouraging. Throughout 2021, almost half (46%) of authors selected to publish their discussions with reviewers, though there may be variation between disciplines (see ‘Peer assessment opens up’). Early information counsel extra will achieve this in 2022. It is a promising pattern. 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 had been accompanied by nameless peer-review experiences along with writer–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 big. Opening up peer assessment promotes extra transparency, and is efficacious to researchers who examine peer-review methods. It’s also helpful to early-career researchers extra broadly. Every set of experiences is a real-life instance, a information to how one can 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 assessment is integral to being a researcher. Making reviewers’ work public illustrates the lengths that researchers will go within the service of scholarship. In line with one examine, reviewers in complete do tens of thousands and thousands of hours of peer assessment every year (B. Aczel et al. Res. Integr. Peer Rev. 6, 14; 2021). But this contribution is never acknowledged in analysis analysis methods. As we’ve got reported, there may be rising curiosity in reforming these methods to higher signify how science is finished. If extra researchers comply with open up their peer-review exchanges, we are able to all play a component in making that occur.

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