Peer Review Process in Scientific Journals: Open, Single-blind, or Double-blind?

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Reviewers more likely to recommend acceptance when prestigious names and institutions were visible.
Reviewers more likely to recommend acceptance when prestigious names and institutions were visible.

HealthDay News — Reviewers are more likely to accept manuscripts when author names and institutions are visible, even in the presence of errors in the manuscript, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Kanu Okike, MD, MPH, from Kaiser Moanalua Medical Center in Honolulu, and colleagues conducted a study at Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, a journal that allows authors to select single-blind or double-blind peer review. Reviewers were randomized to receive single-blind or double-blind versions of a fabricated manuscript, which was putatively written by two past presidents of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons from prominent institutions, and which included five subtle errors. A total of 119 reviewers completed the review of the manuscript (46%).

The researchers observed no significant differences between the single-blind and double-blind groups in sex, nationality, prior reviews completed, or mean time to review completion (all P > 0.05). When the prestigious authors' names and institutions were visible (single-blind review), the reviewers were more likely to recommend acceptance than when the names and institutions were redacted (double-blind review) (87% versus 68%; multivariable relative risk, 1.28). Reviewers also gave higher ratings for the methods and other categories in single-blind review. The number of errors detected did not differ.

"Although one study found double-blind reviews to be of higher quality, others detected no differences," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the medical device industry.

Reference

Okike K, Hug KT, Kocher MS, et al. Single-blind vs double-blind peer review in the setting of author prestige. JAMA. 2016;316:1315-1316.

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