PeerJ = Open

Transparency, trust, and quality

Post-publication peer review history

PeerJ's editorial model is based on post-publication peer review history transparency. At a basic level, only peer review history dates and formal decisions are provided post-publication. At their discretion, reviewers and authors can optionally make the entire history public once the article is published.

What is meant by "optional?"

In this instance "optional" means that peer review is still done as single-blind (editors/reviewers see the names of authors), however once a manuscript has been accepted then reviewers have the option to sign their reviews. Additionally, authors have the option to make the entire submission and review audit trail publicly available after publication.

At no point is the reviewer identity or review history made public until a manuscript has been published and permission has been granted by those involved.

To date, 40% of reviewers have signed their reviews and 80% of authors have made their review history publicly available. If you're interest in more information see our blog post on open review stats.

Does PeerJ have pre-publication open review?

No. We operate a traditional "single-blind" process to start. Manuscripts sent to PeerJ or PeerJ Computer Science are only reviewed privately. However, it is "Open" in the sense that reviewers can sign reviews, and authors can optionally share the review history post-publication (see above).

Why not require open reviews or perform double blind reviews? First, true double blind reviewing may be impossible to achieve, and so we don't want to promise anything that cannot be guaranteed. On the other end is mandating that everyone sign a review and make the history available. We recognize that this isn't everyone's cup of tea just yet, and so we provide this as an option instead of requiring it.

Review History

When authors choose to make their review history public then we create a dedicated page for their publication's history with the editor in charge and reviewers' comments. Each round of review will have a separate "version" section, such that others are able to trace the publication's changes all the way back to the original submission.

Below is the partial review history from an actual publication in PeerJ, which shows the Editor in charge, Valeria Souza, and Reviewer 1 who chose to sign his review, Douglas Rusch.

PeerJ peer review from Douglas Rusch

Because Dr. Rusch signed his review he also gets traceable, long-term persistent credit (thanks to a DOI coined per review) any time someone chooses to cite his reviewer report. To help citing we add an info box on how to cite a review below each public review. For the review above this looks like the following:

How to Perform Peer-Review

Thanks to Dr. Rusch making his reviewer report public (see above) we also now have an excellent resource for learning how to perform a review. There are of course many ways to do a review (both good and bad). A positive side effect of signing reviews and making the history available is that all scholars now have an opportunity to learn and improve upon future reviews themselves.

A suggested format for a good review is to comment on three dimensions:

  • Was the report well structured and written (i.e. the basic reporting)?
  • Were the methods and materials appropriate and performed correctly?
  • Do the results and conclusions match the experiments (i.e. is it valid)?

We can also see from the example above that Dr. Rusch has been thorough, explicit (cites page numbers), and critical, but civil. Additionally he has written a short one line summary at the top of each reporting section. This is a report that a submitting author could easily follow and make corrections with.

Now that we've covered peer-review you may be interested to learn more about how to write a good rebuttal letter that could reduce the time it takes to publish.