Should Reviewer’s Names Be Kept Confidential?

There has been considerable, often heated, debate on weblogs regarding whether or not a reviewer’s name should be made public or not; e.g. see

Are Review Comments Confidential? at Climate Audit

O’Donnellgate at Real Climate

I have served as Chief Editor of the Monthly Weather Reviews and co-Chief Editor of the Journal of Atmospheric Science, both journals of the American Meteorological Society. Our policy on reviewers and reviews were as follows;

  • Reviewers (referees) can waive being anonymous if they chose. Otherwise, the Editor is required to protect anonymity.
  • When an Editor made a decision (which were to “accept as is”; accept with “minor revision“; accept with “major revision“, or “reject“), all reviews were sent to the other reviewers as well as to the authors. The names of the reviewers were redacted.

I have (and am) recommending that ALL reviews of accepted papers (with the reviewers names removed) and the Editor’s communications to the author(s)  (and the reviews at all stages in the review process) be made available on-line at the American Meteorological Society and American Geophysical Union’s websites. The reviews of ALL rejected papers would also, with the author(s) permission,  be posted on the websites.

This transparency would permit a more objective determination of whether or not the selected reviewers and editor’s decision were prejudicial.

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