Skip to main content

Open Research: Open Peer Review

What is open peer review?

Peer review is the process in which authors' submitted works are scrutinised by experts in the same field.  The aim is to help ensure that only high quality research is published and for feedback to be provided to authors on how they may improve their manuscript.

Traditionally, peer review has been a closed process.  For example, the reviewers' identities are not usually disclosed to the authors and their reports are not made public.  There has been criticism of this process, because it can be slow, open to bias, and open to abuse.  

Peer review is evolving and in some publications openness is increasing.

Open peer review opens up the peer review process, trying to bring greater transparency, accountability, and inclusivity.  Some of the common aspects of Open Peer Review are:

  • authors and reviewers are made aware of each other's identities.
  • reports from reviewers are published with the article.
  • the wider community can contribute to reviews.

There are a number of models of Open Peer Review involving various combinations of aspects and it may take place pre- or post- publication. For example, a journal may operate a system where  the reviewer reports are published online alongside the article, but the reviewers are not named. 

To find out more about Open Peer Review:

How to get involved in Open Peer Review

As an author you can choose to submit your work to a journal which undertakes Open Peer Review.

You may wish to  be a reviewer for a journal which undertakes Open Peer Review or be a public reviewer if this is an option. The SHU principles of good research practice for peer reviewers provides a code of conduct for individuals who review the work of others.

If you are an editor of a publication, you may wish to discuss how to make the peer review process more Open with your publisher.  The paper below is a starting point for considering Open Peer Review for editors and publishers.

Ross-Hellauer, T., Görögh, E. (2019) Guidelines for open peer review implementation. Research Integrity and Peer Review, 4:4. https://doi.org/10.1186/s41073-019-0063-9

Advantages and disadvantages of Open Peer Review

The following are some of the possible advantages of Open Peer Review:

  • Revealing identities of authors and reviewers increases transparency. 
  • The process may foster direct discussion between authors and reviewers.
  • Reviewers providing publicly visible reviews will hopefully be diplomatic and constructive.
  • The pool of reviewers and number of reviews a paper may receive is potentially larger. This could therefore result in the following:
    • increasing the speed of review
    • providing more opportunity for errors and inconsistencies within the research to be spotted
    • greater consistency and reduction in bias
  • Where reviews are visible, reviewers can get credit for their reviewing work and can cite and link to their reviews if they wish to.

The following are some of the possible disadvantages of Open Peer Review:

  • Reviewers may be less critical if the reviews are public.
  • Reviewers may fear retaliation if they give an unfavourable review and their identity is visible.  For example an early career researcher may not wish to review a senior researchers work.

Further information on peer review

Please see our detailed pages on peer review for more information on peer review; the types of peer review, how to undertake peer reviewing and future trends in peer review.

Adsetts Library [map pdf]
Collegiate Library [map pdf]

Sheffield Hallam University
City Campus, Howard Street
Sheffield S1 1WB