Three Kinds of Peer Review: Pros and Cons | Tips on How to Get Your Research Published
There are three different types of peer review that are used by academic and scientific journals. They are known as single blind review, double blind review and open review, and every author who submits his or her paper for publication and every scholar who peer reviews articles for a journal should be aware of their strengths and shortcomings. Each journal usually sticks to one kind, but there are occasional exceptions, with the odd journal varying its practices in certain situations or for certain kinds of articles, and others changing their policies from time to time.
The most common and most traditional type of peer review is single blind review in which the name of the reviewer is hidden from the author, but the author’s identity is known to the reviewer. The idea is that a reviewer who remains anonymous will be able to provide comments and recommendations that are more impartial than they could be were his or her identity known to the author. In most cases, the process is a smooth one with the reviewer offering helpful feedback, but that anonymity can be misused as an opportunity to be excessively critical, harsh or mean spirited. This may not always be entirely deliberate since encountering unexpected ideas that conflict with one’s own research results can produce inappropriate responses. However, there are certainly instances in which peer reviewers intentionally delay or prevent publication of material similar to their own work so that they have the opportunity to publish first, and there are also rare cases of plagiarism.
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In double blind review the names of both the author and the reviewer are hidden so that neither knows the identity of the other. Ideally, this prevents the reviewer from exerting biases based on the nationality or gender of the author or the nature of his or her previous work. The content of the paper becomes the sole focus, so the work of well-known scholars with many successful publications will be considered on an equal plane with the work of early-career scholars who have not yet achieved publication. Unfortunately, double blind review does not solve the problem of peer reviewers who evaluate articles unfairly because the content does not support their own research or intrudes on what they consider their intellectual territory. In addition, a reviewer can often determine the identity of an author who is already published through the content, the writing style and details such as citations, research partners and methodology. To prevent this as much as possible, it is essential to follow with precision the journal guidelines regarding personal information.
Finally, open review means that the identity of the author is known to the reviewer and that of the reviewer known to the author. There is considerable debate about whether open review solves problems or introduces them, but it would seem that it does both. Reviewers are rendered more accountable for their critical remarks and prevented from various forms of misconduct. It would be pleasant to think that open and honest reviews would always be the result, but there is the danger that a reviewer will not feel able to share valid criticism due to fear of offending or may offer an opinion more positive than the work merits in order to make a valuable ally of a well-known scholar.
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