Published Peer Reviews

Peer reviewing is a crucial part of science today but it is also much debated. The perfect system does probably not exist but the current system can certainly be improved. One way to do so might be published peer reviews that have gotten some attention lately. Published reviews means that the written reviews of the paper and the replies of the authors are published alongside the paper. Nature Communications has had this option for a few years now and some Kerr frequency comb papers have published peer reviews:

To see which options are available with the journals most relevant to the Kerr frequency comb and microresonator community I reached out to these journals and asked whether open peer reviews are an option or will be an option in the foreseeable future. Here is a summary of the results:

Journal License Blindness Pub. rev. Ackn. rev.
Nature Closed Single/Double No Yes
Nature Communications OA
Single/Double Yes No
Nature Photonics Closed Single/Double No No
Optica OA Single No No
Optics Express OA Single No No
Optics Letters Closed Single No No
OSA Continuum OA Single Yes No
Physical Review A, Applied, Letters Closed Single No No
Physical Review X OA
Single No No
Science Closed Single No No

Blindness: single-blinded or double-blinded reviews
Pub. rev., published reviews: the option to publish the reviews alongside the article.
Ackn. rev., acknowledged reviewers: the option to acknowledge the reviewers of the manuscript by name.

As it becomes clear, the number of journals which offer published peer reviews is limited to Nature Communications and the very recent addition OSA Continuum. At Nature a reviewer can be acknowledged by name if this is the wish of the reviewer. Nature journals, including Nature Photonics, are also closely watching how things evolve at Nature Communications. All Nature journals offer a double-blind review process as an option for the authors. The OSA family of journals is more progressive with its recent OSA Continuum journal but stays on the conservative side for the currently very relevant journals Optica, Optics Letters and Optics Express. The APS journals do not plan any changes to the peer review process in the near future. Similarly, Science does not currently have plans to add an option for published peer reviews.

Although the table above looks very uniform, there are many different models out there. Just to highlight a few:

  • Frontier in Physics has a quite different approach  which they call “Collaborative Peer Review” where reviewers and authors involve into something more like a discussion. Reviewers which accept the paper are named on the paper (no opt-out available).
  • While less relevant for the topic here, The Cryosphere has an open review system in which a discussion paper is published which is open for comments from the community
  • PubPeer allows anyone to comment on and to discuss any manuscript out there (including the ones on Arxiv)
  • And Publons helps you getting credit for all the reviews you have done

So, next time you submit somewhere or review for a journal you know the available options a bit better.

CC BY 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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