In 2001, BioMed Central was the first publisher to openly post named peer reviewer reports alongside published articles as part of a ‘pre-publication history’ for all medical journals in the BMC series. The BMC Group now publishes over 500 journals and of those, 70 operate fully open peer review.
In the open peer review process practiced by BMC, authors know who the reviewers are for all manuscripts during the peer review process, and if the manuscript is accepted for publication the named reviewer reports accompany the published article.
Open peer review facilitates accountability and recognition, and may help in training early career researchers about the peer review process.
Goals and intentions
Peer review is central to the publishing process and has a fundamental role to play in maintaining the integrity of the published literature and advancing discovery. At BMC, we have always supported innovation in peer review.
The intention with open peer review is to make the reviewer (and the Editor) more accountable for peer review, and to provide recognition of the work that peer reviewers do.
There have been relatively few large-scale studies looking at the impact of open peer review, and so data from the BMC Group is useful for learning about the effectiveness and benefits of open peer review.
A study in BMJ Open in 2015 found that the quality of peer review reports was slightly higher in BMC Infectious Diseases (open peer review) compared with BMC Microbiology (single-blind peer review). However, no effect was found in the Journal of Inflammation when it operated open vs single-blind review.
This study also showed that reviewer recommendations were similar in BMC Infectious Diseases and BMC Microbiology, suggesting no difference between open and single blind peer review. However, in the Journal of Inflammation, it was found that reviewers were more likely to recommend acceptance under open peer review compared with single blind.