FLICKR, PETE O'SHEABeginning next month, authors submitting their work to Nature and its associated journals can request double-blind peer review, in which the authors’ names and affiliations will be withheld from reviewers (much like reviewers’ names and affiliations are currently withheld from the authors).
“Advocates of double-blind peer review suggest that it eliminates personal biases, such as those based on gender, seniority, reputation and affiliation,” Nature noted in its February 18 announcement.
In contrast, some researchers have advocated for open peer review, in which the authors and reviewers both are clearly identified, arguing that such increased transparency might further limit bias. But some open-peer-review advocates, such as PhD student Matthew Evans of the John Innes Centre in Norwich, U.K., suggest that, if reviews are to be blinded, double-blind is preferable to single-blind peer review.
“Good scientists will continue to publish good papers in good journals under a double-blind peer review system,” wrote Boyan Garvalov of Justus Liebig University Giessen, Germany, in a January Advances in Regenerative Biology article (hat tip: Alexis Verger). “But every now and again a lesser known research team could make it on the strength of their work against a more famous one, when they would have failed in the single-blind setting—and this would be reason enough for me to endorse the shift to double-blind review.”