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The Double-Blind Review

Nature and some of its associated journals will offer authors the option of double-blind peer review beginning next month, the journal says.

Currently, the journal follows a single-blind system in which the reviewers are anonymous, but they know the identities of the authors whose manuscript they are reviewing. In this new option, the reviewers would remain anonymous and they would not know whose paper they are reviewing.

Such an approach, proponents say, would eliminate biases based on gender, institutional affiliation, researcher reputation, and more.

However, Nature notes that others have been lobbying for open peer review in which the names of both the authors and reviewers are known. This model, advocates say, would increase transparency. The journal notes that it tested open peer review a few years ago, but the option wasn't popular.

Instead, it says that multiple surveys have indicated that double-blind review would be a popular option, though it notes that tests at Nature Geoscience and Nature Climate Change have had lower uptake than expected based on such survey results. Still, Nature notes that the responses from the authors who took that route has been positive, and it has detected no difference in review quality.

It adds that making manuscripts anonymous will be the responsibility of the authors and that in some small fields, true anonymity may not be possible.

The Scan

US Supports Patent Waivers

NPR reports that the Biden Administration has announced its support for waiving intellectual property protections for SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.

Vaccines Versus Variants

Two studies find the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine to be effective against viral variants, and Moderna reports on booster shots to combat variants.

CRISPR for What Ails You

The Wall Street Journal writes that CRISPR-based therapies could someday be used to treat common conditions like heart attacks.

Nature Papers Review Integration of Single-Cell Assay Data, Present Approach to Detect Rare Variants

In Nature this week: review of ways to integrate data from single-cell assays, and more.