Behind the Mask
Masked and Open Reviews
Many journals adhere to the traditional practice of masked or blind review, in which identifying information about reviewers is removed from the critiqued manuscript prior to returning it to the author(s). In a “double blind” review, the identity of authors is also masked from the reviewers.
As fair as it appears, masked review is being reconsidered. For one thing, many participants in the process question how “blind” the review process actually is. For another, critics of the masked process claim that the practice discourages authentic dialogue between scholars, because the reviewer and the reviewee never directly engage with each other.
Some journals have moved to open reviews, in which everyone’s identity is clearly communicated. Some journals even publish accepted articles with excerpts from the peer review comments alongside them, enabling readers to judge for themselves how well a paper responds to the critique of peers. Although the practice is most common in online journals, which do not have the space restrictions of print, some print journals are also publishing formal responses alongside innovative papers.