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Anonymity rules change

Peerage of Science
09 Feb 2016


Peerage of Science has maintained triple-blind peer reviewer anonymity default from the very beginning. This meant that in standard processes designated by author to be Anonymous, peer reviewer identity was not shown to anyone, not even editors, unless reviewer explicitly decided to disclose name.

It has become clear that this principle was a serious obstacle for wider adoption of Peerage of Science among editors. Especially because Peerage of Science is still quite new to most editors, the leap of faith to trust fully anonymous peer reviewers was too much for most. The fact is, while we know that our reviewers are qualified, the editors did not.

Peerage of Science now defaults to double-blind reviewer anonymity

Starting today, all new Anonymous reviewing engagements begin with the agreement shown on the image on the right. The important change is this paragraph:

"You agree that registered editors listed below can check your name and email address. Correspondingly, you will receive email notification with editor's name and email address if one of them checks your identity. Editor who is an author or reviewer in this process can not see your identity. Editors registering after your engagement have to ask your permission to see your identity."

For all reviewing engagements initiated before this change, and in cases where an editor registered after the reviewing engagement happened, the old rules still apply: if an editor wants to know your identity in an older Anonymous process, they must ask whether you would like to kindly disclose it, just for that process, and just for that editor. To help Peerage of Science grow, we recommend you agree to disclose.

In all cases, as a peer reviewer in Peerage of Science, you still know who can see your name and email address, before they get a chance to see them. And you always have the chance to opt out: in old engagements by declining the request, and in the new policy by not engaging that process in the first place. If you really feel you must review an article with full triple-blind anonymity, you just have to wait until it is published and then comment it afterwards in other sites such as PubPeer.

Janne-Tuomas Seppänen, the founder of Peerage of Science comments the change:

I see that this change is inevitable, yet I must admit it is made with a heavy heart. The original idea was that each argument must stand on its own merit, not on the prestige of peer's name, or lack of it. It was a sincere idea, just not a very successful one. But I am happy that the bigger, more important innovations Peerage of Science brings to peer review can now grow better. Open Engagement, Peer-review-of-peer-review, and Concurrent Consideration are much more important issues than anonymity. I am also happy that participating editors can now see that Peers really are the same trustworthy scientists they would solicit in the traditional system. Eager post-docs, eloquent professors, luminary members of National Science Academies. And if an editor wants to use triple-blind they can still do so - simply by avoiding to click the Identity button next to the peer review.

The policy change of course does not impact the processes designated by author to be Onymous, since in them all names are disclosed to all participants anyway.

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