Scientific journal publisher Elsevier launched a pilot project testing peer review transparency as part of its ongoing Content Innovation project, the company announced on April 2. Review reports for articles in Elsevier’s Agricultural and Forest Meteorology will be published alongside the article on SciVerse ScienceDirect throughout 2012, provided they meet quality standards. If successful, the same treatment will be applied to other Elsevier journals.
Before the article appears, authors and reviewers will be notified of the publication of the review report and the originally submitted manuscript alongside the article. Reviewers can choose whether or not their name will be revealed, thus avoiding the pitfalls mentioned in The Ups and Downs of Peer Review and Effect of open peer review on quality of reviews and on reviewers’ recommendations: a randomised trial, in which reviewers are reluctant to sign reviews, especially negative ones.
Martin Tanke, Managing Director of STM Journals, Elsevier, said the initiative serves the dual purpose of acknowledging the contribution of the reviewer and encouraging stronger reviews.
Dr. Xuhui Lee, editor-in-chief of Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, said, “The published review will provide context to the article by giving multiple perspectives on the quality of the study. It will also enable us to attract the best reviewers for the journal.”
The European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) took a similar step in 2010, according to The Scholarly Kitchen blog, when all four EMBO journals began publishing the complete details of the peer-review process alongside the final paper.