Navigating the Pitfalls of Open Review

By Nicole Gonser on Oct 8, 2021
eContent Pro
A well-known and widely accepted aspect of publishing is the peer review process. As the scientific community changes over time, so too does the peer review process. Leaning into a more collaborative approach, one such change has been the emergence of open review and the way it has changed the course of peer review.

What is Peer Review?

peer review

It’s important to understand peer review as a whole to appreciate how much it has evolved over time. To peer review a piece of scientific research means to have an expert in the same field evaluate the work’s quality, originality, and significance to the respective field. The concept of refereeing, as it was previously known, dates back centuries, and evidence of it has been seen throughout history in many ways. The modern-day peer review that we know came to be after the second World War as there was an increase in scientific research. Over time, peer review came to be more widely utilized as the need for the highest quality research being published became more necessary. Regardless of its long history, peer review only became the norm by the mid-1990s.

Part of that came with the advancements of technology and the rise of the internet making the spread of information faster and more accessible. Peer review saw a shift at the same time, notably with the concept of open peer review.

Common Types of Peer Review

Let’s dissect some of the different forms of peer review first.

Most notably, there are single-blind and double-blind peer review. Single-blind peer review is a process in which the reviewers’ names are anonymized to the authors, but the authors are known to the reviewers. Conversely, double-blind peer review is when both the reviewers and the authors are not known to each other.

These are the two most commonly seen types of peer review, and the anonymization allows for reviewers to be open in their critique without fear of how an author may respond. Alternatively, it leaves an author open to bias, whether intended or not. This is somewhat alleviated with the double-blind peer review process though it still has its drawbacks. While the double anonymization seems to alleviate potential bias, other factors can still draw it in. While the idea of double anonymization seems sound, it is not always successful and can lead to authors and reviewers alike being easily identified.

While these may be the most utilized types of peer review, other types exist as well. Another form of peer review is open peer review, which is exactly how it sounds in that the author and reviewer identities are known to
each other.

Open Peer Review and its Impact

Open peer review exists in different ways. It could mean that the authors and reviewers know each other’s identities, review reports are published alongside the research, or the community at large (as opposed to invited reviewers) contribute to the process.

There are many ways in which open peer review can be beneficial. It has been argued that this form of peer review leads to reviewers being more considerate and helpful in their critiques than they would be if they remained anonymous. It also lends itself to more honest and thorough reviewing.

two people holding a meeting

On the other hand, open peer review has its pitfalls as well. Whether as the reviewer or the author, your name will be associated with this work, and the contents will be known to other researchers in the field. On the reviewer’s end, any noted bias or overly critical language could paint you in a negative light. As the author, if your work has not yet been polished to the point of being publish-ready, you open yourself to severe criticism of your work in a more public forum which can have a negative impact on your overall reputation.

Avoiding a negative response to your work is precisely why we see an influx in pre-submission service requests for articles going to publications such as PLOS. Knowing your name will be associated with a manuscript that will be viewed worldwide by your peers means your work needs to be the best possible reflection of you. Choosing an author services provider, such as eContent Pro, to ensure your work is copy edited and to improve the structure and flow of your manuscript is an imperative step toward seeing your name associated with research that will have the strongest impact in your field.

When it comes to reviewing the work, reviewer bias comes into play heavily here. Reviewers could easily refuse to perform a review in an open peer review system so as to avoid being identified if a review is negative. Studies have shown that race, gender, and country of origin play a role in reviewer bias, and all of those factors would be easily known in this system. At the same time, reviewers might be hesitant to criticize the research of their peers, especially those on a more senior level.

The idea behind open peer review has been to address some of the flaws with more traditional peer review methods. In turn, the goal is to bring about more transparency, inclusivity, and accountability to the process as a whole. In fact, the concept has been surveyed and studies have shown more respondents are in favor of making open peer review more normalized in the scientific community. As a result of the impact of COVID-19, and the need to disseminate research quickly to stay relevant, open reviews have become more prominent.

Scientific & Scholarly Editing

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Regardless of the peer review style you expect to see when publishing your work, eContent Pro's expert editors can pave the way to a smooth process. Being PhD-level scholars in their respective fields, our editors seek to help their fellow academicians and there’s no better way than with a pre-submission review to evaluate the impact of your research. With extensive experience not only in their respective fields but with the peer review process and different styles of review, our editors will see to it that your work is flawless.

Understanding that these services are a luxury, eContent Pro prides itself on working for you and offering the lowest possible rates compared to our competitors. Better yet, where author service providers like Editage and Enago can take a week to return your document, we will have your work returned in a fraction of the time, enabling you to more quickly submit your work for publication.

Alleviate any insecurities you have about the peer review process and allow for more favorable commentary when the time comes by having your work reviewed in advance. The added benefit of being able to submit cleaner, more polished work will lead to higher quality work being published. In turn, you can expect to see your work become more highly cited and indexed.

Give your manuscript the best chance of acceptance with eContent Pro’s Scientific & Scholarly Editing for a pre-submission peer review. Utilize this, or any of our crucial pre-submission services, to enhance and polish your work. Get started today by uploading your document or contacting directly.

About eContent Pro: eContent Pro is a U.S.-based professional editorial and publishing services provider for authors, publishing houses, libraries, organizations, university presses, and societies. Offering professional copy editing, translation, scientific and scholarly editing, journal recommendation, typesetting, figure, chart, table, and equation conversions, as well as other production services, we have provided the highest quality editorial services and content advisement to scholarly outlets and individuals around the world. To learn more about eContent Pro, visit the website here or email

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