One possible approach to improving peer review is to eliminate anonymity. Anonymity in the peer-review system is outdated. The on-line posting of prepublication working papers and presentations means that the reviewer can quickly search key phrases and easily find out who authored a submitted manuscript – even when submitted for blind review. The identity of reviewers has also rarely been secret because many reviewers recommend that the author does a better job of citing the reviewers’ own work!
In The Journal of Ocean and Coastal Economics, we are working to develop ways to connect editors, reviewers and authors in an open manner. By eliminating anonymity from the peer-review system, we increase the accountability of reviewers – everyone will know who has written a bad review and the editor and reviewers alike are much less likely to let a bad manuscript slip through to publication. Publishing the reviewers’ names also gives these reviewers credit for their hard work. From the authors’ perspective, the Journal will provide the opportunity to receive free and high quality advice from a known set of reviewers. The Journal will explore ways to use the online, Web-based publishing environment to enhance communication among those who contribute to the publishing process, and we will work to continually improve the peer review process for all involved.
Our experiment in open peer-review is aided by the narrow focus of our journal and a large and active editorial board. It may not be appropriate for all journals. Nevertheless, by getting the incentives right, we hope to embark on a new peer review experience – both for reviewers and authors.
Source: Pendleton, Linwood H. (2014) "Signed Peer Reviews as a Means to Improve Scholarly Publishing," Journal of Ocean and Coastal Economics: Vol. 2014, Article 10.
This is an awesome experiment. I don't know if it will improve peer review, but if my peer review was not anonymous I'd be much less likely to write it so I'd come off as being a total jerk. And I'd be much less likely to recommend rejection (is that a good or bad thing?).