Open peer review: a randomised controlled trial

Br J Psychiatry. 2000 Jan;176:47-51. doi: 10.1192/bjp.176.1.47.


Background: Most scientific journals practise anonymous peer review. There is no evidence, however, that this is any better than an open system.

Aims: To evaluate the feasibility of an open peer review system.

Method: Reviewers for the British Journal of Psychiatry were asked whether they would agree to have their name revealed to the authors whose papers they review; 408 manuscripts assigned to reviewers who agreed were randomised to signed or unsigned groups. We measured review quality, tone, recommendation for publication and time taken to complete each review.

Results: A total of 245 reviewers (76%) agreed to sign. Signed reviews were of higher quality, were more courteous and took longer to complete than unsigned reviews. Reviewers who signed were more likely to recommend publication.

Conclusions: This study supports the feasibility of an open peer review system and identifies such a system's potential drawbacks.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Feasibility Studies
  • Humans
  • Peer Review / methods*
  • Peer Review / standards
  • Postal Service
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires