Innovative types of peer review


Peer review is the process where experts in a specific field are invited to provide learned and critical evaluation of a researcher’s or author’s work. Peer reviews provide recommendations to publishers, funders and editors on the value of a manuscript. All forms of peer review have flaws and deficiencies, but a more suitably screening method for scientific papers has not yet been established. Alternative and innovative forms of peer review are still considered experimental and many new models will be suggested by the many researchers who are actively looking to make peer review a fool-proof process to ensure that only high-quality papers are released to the research community.



Traditional types

Double-blind review

In double-blind peer review type, reviewers are not aware of the identify of the authors and authors are not aware of the identify of reviewers. Double-blind peer review is often preferred as it is perceived to provide a fairer chance of judgement, avoiding the risk of biased comments. Papers which will undergo a double-blind peer review will need to be anonymized appropriately to ensure a real anonymity of authors.

Single-blind review

In single-blind peer review type, the reviewers know the identity of the authors but the authors will not know the identity of reviewers. This model is the most common, especially across science and medicine journals. Reviewers anonimity provides the liberty of submitting an honest feedback, without the concern of being known. Some criticism is generated by the fact that reviewers may be influenced by knowing the identity of the authors, for example in the case of papers authored by prominent figures in the field, but there is also a concern that negative comments may be submitted, such as in the case of papers authored by rival scientists.

Open peer review

There is no general consensus on the definition of open peer review, by typically it will identify a peer review process where both authors and reviewers know each other’s identity and review reports are published together with the accepted article. Some journals may also publish all peer review versions of an article, thus offering access to all changes made to the text and the peer review comments which generated the changes. Open peer review type encourages reviewers to be honest with their comments, without being disrespectful, but it may also prevent honesty, in fear of developing a negative relationship with the authors. Some peer reviewers may ultimately be reluctant to participate in open peer review because of this total transparency.

Innovative types

Types of peer review - single double blind open reviewTransparent peer review

This model is very similar to open peer review: review reports are published in an anonymous form alongside the article, proving the reader with additional insights on the paper.

Collaborative peer review

In this model of peer review, correspondence between reviewers and authors takes place to facilitate exchange of views and opinions, ultimately generating consolidated peer review comments. This may be an anonymous correspondence or both identities may be known to one another.

Post publication peer review

Through this model of peer review, a manuscript may be published after undergoing a minimum amount of validation or through a traditional model of review. After publication, invited reviewers or the scientific community will have the opportunity to comment on the papers. A single paper may attract many or no comments, but this opportunity may extend for a long period of time, thus reflecting new developments in the future. There are many concerns regarding the strength and reliability of this model, as it does not ensure that it will attract moderate and constructive comments, extremely valuable in specific fields.

Portable peer review

Some new initiatives provide an independent peer review service, which can be attached to manuscripts submitted for publication to subsequent different journals. An example of this type of service is Rubriq which aims to decrease redundancy in the peer review process, but other services are also available. To name a few, Editage, Enago, International Science Editing who all offer a pre-review service to assist authors.

Registered Reports

Registered Reports is a publishing format that emphasizes the importance of the research question and the quality of methodology by conducting peer review prior to data collection. High quality protocols are then provisionally accepted for publication if the authors follow through with the registered methodology. This format is designed to reward best practices in adhering to the hypothetico-deductive model of the scientific method. It eliminates a variety of questionable research practices, including low statistical power, selective reporting of results, and publication bias, while allowing complete flexibility to report serendipitous findings.

Transferable review

A transferable review type is made possible by some publishers sharing the same peer review platform or a connected peer review platform. It encourages authors to agree at submission to share peer review comments for their article in case of submission to a partner journal, but it also requires agreement from the reviewers to share their comments in anonymous or open format, with the subsequent publisher.

Innovative publication models

Open and transparent peer review comments are also provided by some innovative publishers. To name a few, F1000Research, which is an open research publishing platform offering rapid publication without editorial bias, taking benefit from transparent peer review and editorial guidance on making all source data openly available or PeerJ, which offers an editorial model based also on post-publication peer review.