Nature's The Great Beyond asks: "Who needs friends when you've got peer reviewers?" Blogger Ewen Callaway dissects a PLoS One paper that appeared online this week, in which researchers analyze whether open peer review systems discourage biases, such as those that often surface when authors request specific reviewers for their manuscripts. Researchers at the Max Planck Society in Munich, Germany, and the University of Zurich in Switzerland looked at Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics' semi-open peer review system and found that signs of bias accompanied "access to reviews and information about who wrote them," Callaway reports, adding that "on papers where there was disagreement among ... reviewers, those recommended by the author were more likely to provide favorable feedback and accept a paper than the editor-recommended reviewer." Study co-author Lutz Bormann tells Nature that "the danger is really that an author suggested their best friends," although on the flip-side, author-suggested reviewers may be experts in the field, and therefore a better fit to critique the paper.
Bias in the Peer-Review Buddy System?
Oct 19, 2010