Published Peer Review: why we believe it’s important for scientific discourse and transparency

At PeerJ, we have championed Open Peer Review since our launch 10 years ago. We believe that published peer review leads to a more constructive and collegial process; that the reviewer reports and editorial decisions constitute an important part of the scientific record; and they provide a way for reviewers (if they choose) and editors to be publicly credited for their important contribution. Despite the majority of authors choosing to publish their peer review history in its entirety, however, it has not become the norm. In February, on the 10th anniversary of our first published articles, we announced that all new submissions would have their entire peer review history published alongside the accepted article.

Why is published peer review important?

Transparency and accountability

Publishing peer review reports alongside articles helps to increase transparency in the scientific publishing process. It allows readers to see how the research has been evaluated and how the reviewers and editors arrived at their decisions. This greater transparency helps to ensure accountability and promotes trust in the scientific community.

Promoting civil and constructive feedback

Published peer review reports can provide constructive criticism and feedback that can help authors to improve their research. They can also help to identify potential weaknesses in the study design or methodology, which can be addressed in future research. This can lead to a higher quality of published research overall.

Allowing reviewers and editors to receive recognition for their work

At PeerJ, reviewers can choose to sign their review. By having their names attached to the review reports, reviewers can receive credit for their contributions to the scientific community. Editors can also link to their decision letters and show the input they have had to the development of an article. This recognition can help to incentivize reviewers and editors to continue to participate in the peer review process.

What you think about published peer review

We asked whether knowing that your peer review will be published would reviewers more more likely to review anonymously, sign their reviews or decline a review:


We asked how often user read peer review history when it is available: 

As part of our announcement in February we added a more prominent link encouraging users to read peer review reports. Since then, we have seen views to the published reviews pages up 26.34%, with an average time on those pages increasing by 11%. 

Lastly we asked whether a journal publishing peer review reports makes you more or less likely to submit:

We hope that publishing the peer review of accepted articles will have a positive impact on scientific trust and the civility of scientific discourse, whilst also providing a greater opportunity for reviewers and editors to be credited for the impact that they have on developing an article. We invite authors, reviewers, and editors to join us in this effort to promote greater openness in scientific publishing.

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