Monday, January 31, 2011

Open or Blind

I can imagine that a lot of reviewers (and I’m guilty of it too) relish a poorly written article only so that they can absolutely crush it. I’ve done enough reviews to know they’re annoying and tedious, yet necessary. However, when the work clearly doesn’t warrant publishing, or the authors have gross lapse in literature review, or it’s just poorly written/described/presented, reviewing for the sake of “helping the community” starts to lose its footing as a reason.

With one-sided blind reviews, the author does not know the reviewers but the reviewers know the authors. Eventually, I think most publishers will switch from this current system to either Open-Open, or Double-Blind. The reasons for a Double-Blind review are fairly strong. Helps remove gender bias, location bias, and research bias. The only major problem with this review system is the reviewer (if they’re any good…) should know who else in the world is working on similar research. Plus, with conferences, references, and a good literature study, the reviewer can easily figure out well established groups. Thus, in the end, I think the Double-Blind review process will in effect always be a quasi- one-sided blind.

An Open-Open review, on the other hand, lays everything out on the table. Authors know exactly who is critiquing them and (hopefully) the reviewers will give strong reviews (either for or against), even when their name is attached to it. The main problem with this type of review system is the softening of the review. Reviewers might be less inclined to reject a paper or even give strong criticism. Also, retaliation for a particular review is a problem.

In most of my reviews (which are typically one-sided blind), I have generally added the statement:
“I believe the review process should be open between reviewers and authors”
Awesome Engineering U
[Note: I know publishing a blog under a pen name is hypocritical while I readily give my name to the authors for which I am reviewing.]

However, I am curious, how do you think an Open-Open review process would affect young faculty members just starting out? Should they keep their principle or use the cover of peer review to their advantage? Is an Open-Open review process even a good idea?

1 comment:

  1. I prefer the double blind process. Yes, it can become quasi-blind process, but that's not for certain. I think the reviewer should be protected somewhat. Reviewers would be much more willing to let sub-par work slide if their name was attached. Especially for newer community members.