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Is open peer review the fairest system? Yes

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 16 November 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c6424
  1. Trish Groves, deputy editor
  1. 1BMJ, London WC1H 9JR, UK
  1. tgroves{at}

Trish Groves argues that telling authors who has reviewed their paper has helped to make the process fairer, but Karim Khan (doi:10.1136/bmj.c6425) is concerned that it stops reviewers from being completely frank

When I arrived at the BMJ in 1989 I often had to cut (with scissors) and paste (with glue) the highlights of a reviewer’s report on to another sheet of paper and photocopy it. Only then could I enclose the review with my letter to an author, as the original was too rude or destructive. At the same time, numerous studies of peer review were finding that it was riddled with systematic biases— against authors, their institutions, their nationality, and their sex. Such abuses of anonymity were so common that Drummond Rennie, then deputy editor of JAMA, called for reviews to be signed, so that journals would link “privilege and duty, by reminding the reviewer that with power comes responsibility: that the scientist invested with the mantle of the judge cannot be arbitrary in his or her judgment and must be a constructive critic.”1 Although JAMA did not adopt open (signed) review, the BMJ did: in 1999.

Why …

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