Intended for healthcare professionals


Double blind peer reviews are fairer and more objective, say academics

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 31 January 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:241
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. 1London

    A large survey of academics from around the world has found strong support for the double blind system of peer review of research papers, where the reviewers and authors are unaware of each other’s identity.

    The survey, which resulted in 3040 responses to a questionnaire sent to more than 40 000 authors and editors (a response rate of 7.7%), found that 71% of respondents rated double blind reviewing as effective. In comparison, 52% rated single blind review, where only the reviewer is anonymous, as effective; and 37% considered post-publication review effective, in which anyone can review and rate a paper once it has been peer reviewed and published.

    Open review, where the author and reviewer know each other’s name, was the least popular method of peer review, with just 26% of respondents rating it as effective.

    The survey respondents overwhelmingly favoured the double blind system of review because they said it was more objective and fair and removed potential biases, for example, because of the author’s institution, race, or country or because of a reviewer’s personal opinion of an author.

    The survey was commissioned by the Publishing Research Consortium (a group of publishers and publishing associations that supports research into academic communication) to help understand peer review and to inform debate about its future role.

    It found that 93% of respondents agreed that peer review was necessary and valuable in controlling the quality of published research. And although most respondents (64%) were satisfied with the current system of peer review, some also said that they had misgivings about the ability of the peer review process to detect plagiarism, fraud, or misconduct. Nearly a third of the respondents thought that the current system could be improved.

    Over a third (38%) of the academics surveyed said that they thought the peer review process was too slow and that many reviewers were overloaded with work. The survey found that a reviewer completed on average eight reviews a year, although 44% of reviewers completed 14 reviews a year, or 79% of all reviews. And although most of the reviewers and editors said they would be happy to be able to review authors’ data as part of the review, they did not know how they would have the time.


    View Abstract