Skip to Main Content
The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Peer Review

About peer review, its role in scholarly publishing, how to do it and best practices

What is Open Peer Review?

Open peer review is a blanket phrase used for publicly shared:

  • author/editor/reviewer identities; 
  • review information; and/or
  • post publication commenting.

Which of these categories are open is generally determined by the publisher or editor (journal/article, book/chapter), platform provider (repository), association (conference) or funding agency (grant). Open peer review practices should be published by the sponsoring organization and established by agreement between editor, reviewer and author. 

Kathleen Fitzpatrick discusses open peer review and its merits in particular for digital humanities scholarship in Beyond Metrics: Community Authorization and Open Peer Review.

Pros and Cons of Open Peer Review

This short video demonstrates the peer review process and how open peer review can accelerate research impact.

Open peer review may have the following benefits and drawbacks, depending on the circumstances.

  Benefits Drawbacks
Researcher Speed, reviewer accountability, comprehensiveness, transparency, cross-disciplinary feedback Potentially smaller reviewer pool
Reviewer Recognition, increased trust Adverse exposure, especially if imbalance of power/prestige or small, specialized community
Reader/Public Speed, transparency, increased participation, greater context  

Guidelines for Open Peer Review

  • Guidelines for Open Peer Review Implementation - Guidance for publishers who want to use OPR.
  • Open Textbooks Review Criteria - Guidance for reviewers of open textbooks in the Open Textbook Library. Reviews are published alongside the textbook.
  • Open Peer Review (PLOS) - Covers what open peer review is, why it's important, the different types of open review and how to engage in it. Specific PLOS journal peer review guidelines are also available.
  • Open Reviewers Bias Reflection Guide (PREreview) - For pre- or post-publication review, provides common assumptions and biases and an identify/evaluate/add/reverse/rephrase framework for thinking more critically about them.
  • Open Reviewers Review Guide (PREreview) - a comprehensive guide for reviewers of manuscripts in three sections: To Review or Not to Review, Writing a Review: Step-by-Step, and Writing a Review: Print-Out. Includes scenarios, tips from editors and reflection questions.
  • Review Guide (eLife) - Covers key features of preprint review, collaborative review, public review, recommendations and elements of the written review.