Double-blind peer review for Nature journals
18 February 2015
Authors will be able to opt for double-blind peer review across Nature and the Nature Research Journals*. Nature
Communications, Nature Publishing Group’s flagship open access journal, will be joining the trial later in 2015. The news is
announced in an editorial published in this week's Nature, with other journals announcing their implementation over the
coming month. Double-blind peer review is being introduced in response to author feedback, and follows trials by Nature
Geoscience and Nature Climate Change.
In double-blind peer review both the authors and the reviewers are anonymised. The Nature-branded journals will also continue
to offer single-blind peer review, in which the reviewers are anonymous but know the authors’ identity. Corresponding authors will be able to choose whether single-blind or double-blind peer review is used on their submission. Advocates of double-blind peer review argue that it removes biases that relate to the authors (for example those based on gender, seniority or organisation) that might otherwise impact the objectivity with which the review is carried out.
Veronique Kiermer, Director of Author and Reviewer Services for Nature Publishing Group, commented: "This is part of Nature
Publishing Group's ongoing commitment to providing outstanding service to our authors, and changing our practices in response to the research community's needs. It has become increasingly clear over the years that researchers think that double-blind peer review is an effective system. We want to act on that, offering this as an option and learning from the take-up and feedback. As long ago as 2006 we experimented with open peer review. At that time the uptake was disappointing and the reviews were not technically substantive, but we know that the research community evolves in its thinking and we evolve our policies to ensure best practice. We continue to consider open review as an option for the future, in response to author feedback."
Nature Geoscience and Nature Climate Change began offering a double-blind peer review option in June 2013. Authors of about
20% of submissions chose the option, no substantive effects on the quality of reviews have been detected and support for the trial remains very high. A recent Nature Publishing Group reader survey found that 78% of almost 29,000 respondents thought that double-blind peer review was a "good" or "very good" idea and many in-person interviews with young scientists confirmed our understanding that researchers wanted to see double-blind peer review as an option.
Kiermer added: "There are no perfect solutions to a process that is often characterized as involving multiple conflicting interests,
but peer review is at the heart of the scientific process and we are committed to finding the best possible ways of facilitating it.
Our editors have always tried to ensure that they mitigate the biases that may appear in the process and we will continue to do
that as we progress with this experiment. This is one of the many ways we’re working to support authors - we'll be continuing to
talk to them to ensure we develop new policies and services in the areas they care about."
Notes for editors
*The Nature Research Journals consist of Nature Biotechnology
Nature Cell Biology
Nature Chemical Biology
Nature Climate Change
Nature Structural & Molecular Biology
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