peer review part III

Michael Gochfeld gochfeld at
Thu Oct 5 10:42:50 EDT 2000

1. Doug is right. Non-anonymous reviews can backfire, and some editors 
believe (rightly so, perhaps) that reviewers will temper their 
criticisms if they have to sign them. But that's a good thing. I don't 
mind the second anonymous sheet where you indicate whether you recommend 
rejection, acceptance with revision etc, but the detailed criticisms 
supporting the decision really should be temperate and signed. 
	Bitter pills can be made palatable if the review provides an 
explanation. One can say that conclusion is "not supported by the data 
presented" rather than it is  "utter nonsense". 

2. A few journals are keeping the authors anonymous. I doubt that this 
works. As Doug says you can usually guess the author(s)'s identity. 
Sometimes its obvious when they say "as previously reported (Gochfeld 
1940", sometimes you just know from the methods or the study area or the 
organism etc. 
	But the purpose of keeping authors anonymous is to cut down on 
ad hominem attacks. It wouldn't cut down on reviewers who want to hammer 
any competition (regardless of who it is). 

3. By the same token, in a small field, it's usually pretty obvious who 
an anonymous reviewer is.  Or worse, rather than identifying accurately 
the critic,  you can narrow it down to 2 or 3 formers friends that 
you'll never speak to again.

M. Gochfeld

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