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Open research

Information is provided on a number of different ways you can embed open practices into your research.

What is open peer review?

Open peer review (OPR) is an umbrella term for various alternative review methods that seek to make classical peer review more transparent and accountable.

Features of open peer review

OPR includes some or all of these attributes:

  • Authors and reviewers are aware of each other's identities
  • Review reports are published alongside the relevant article
  • The wider community can contribute to the review process, both peer researchers and the general public

Two ways to practice open peer review

  1. Incorporate OPR into the current peer review system but with open reviews and identities
  2. Develop new systems that are completely open to the community

Adapted from "Open Peer Review"Foster Open Science is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Six reasons for open peer review

  1. Transparency - Revealing identities of author and reviewers increases transparency, and reviewers may be held accountable for their evaluations. Reviewer bias and conflicts of interest can be identified by the participating community.
  2. Speed - Traditional peer review can take up to a year between submission and final publication, substantially delaying access to findings. Moving from individual peer reviewers to community review speeds up the process significantly by opening up the pool of reviewers able and willing to take on the review. 
  3. Reliability - Including the wider community instead of depending on just 1-2 reviewers provides a better opportunity to identify errors or flaws. Initiatives such as For better science and Pubpeer support open discussion and constructive criticism about scientific papers. The number of papers listed by retractionwatch highlights the fact that the current peer review system is not always a guarantee of quality.
  4. Consistency - Reviewers can have differing opinions about the papers they review, and it may be unclear why a paper is rejected by one reviewer and not by another. Open peer review supports improved consistency and reduces the chance of bias by allowing comparison of more reviewers' views.
  5. Context - Making reviewers' questions about a given paper open along with the responses from authors provides valuable context about the methodologies employed and research processes.
  6. Motivation - Current peer review which hides the identity of reviewers does not allow them to get credit for their work. Publishing review reports and assigning them a DOI turns them into citable research outputs, and including an ORCID ensures that they are included in your research record. Posting on preprint servers to get early feedback makes the work more visible to potential publishers. Sometimes authors who have shared early results via preprint servers are approached directly by journals interested in publishing their work.

Adapted from "Open Peer Review"Foster Open Science is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Who is using open peer review?

Open peer review is increasingly common in the natural sciences and the health and medical fields, but there are, as yet only tentative moves in other fields of research.

Growth of OPR journals by discipline groups

 Growth of OPR journals by discipline groups - chart

Image: "Open peer review: promoting transparency in open science. Scientometrics 125, 1033–1051 (2020)" by Dietmar Wolfram et al is licensed under CC BY 4.0


Examples of open peer review

Note the reviewer comments, public comments and revised manuscripts.

Further resources