Quantitative Science Studies successfully completes transparent peer review pilot

In August 2020 Quantitative Science Studies (QSS) started a transparent peer review pilot, in close collaboration with our publisher, MIT Press. For articles accepted for publication in QSS, the review reports, along with the responses of the authors and the decision letters of the editor, were published in Publons, provided that the authors agreed to participate in the pilot. Reviewer identities were not revealed, unless reviewers preferred to give up their anonymity.

By publishing review reports, QSS aims to provide insight into the strengths and weaknesses of an article and into unresolved disagreements among authors, reviewers, and editors. This information may provide helpful context for readers. It also increases the accountability of reviewers and editors.

We are pleased to announce the successful completion of the QSS transparent peer review pilot. An overwhelming majority of the authors who submitted their work to QSS decided to participate in the pilot. For 90% of the articles submitted to QSS during the pilot and accepted for publication in the journal, the authors agreed to publish the review reports. The review reports for these articles are openly available in Publons under a CC BY license. In a limited number of cases, reviewers decided to reveal their identity.

There is a strong growth in the number of journals adopting transparent peer review. However, the level of support for transparent peer review differs across journals. For instance, in a transparent peer review pilot at the Nature journal, 46% of the authors decided to participate, a figure that is substantially lower than for QSS. In line with the outcomes for QSS, a pilot by a number of Wiley journals found that 87% of the authors supported the publication of review reports.

Several colleagues in the quantitative science studies community reached out to us, either privately or publicly, to express their support for transparent peer review (see for instance here and here). We did not receive any complaints during the pilot. Reviewers did not object to the publication of their reports.

In a recent meeting of the editorial board of QSS, the board agreed to adopt transparent peer review as the standard peer review model for QSS. This means that review reports will be published for all new articles submitted to QSS and accepted for publication in the journal.

At QSS we are proud of our contribution to promoting open science practices. Adopting transparent peer review is an important step on this journey.

Ludo Waltman, Editor-in-Chief QSS
Vincent Larivière, Associate Editor QSS
Staša Milojević, Associate Editor QSS

About the author

Ludo Waltman

Ludo Waltman is professor of Quantitative Science Studies at the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) at Leiden University. Ludo serves as Editor-in-Chief of Quantitative Science Studies, the official journal of the ISSI society. He previously served as Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Informetrics.

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