I’ve been thinking more about my post from yesterday. I wrote:
I have to ask myself, would I be willing to review a manuscript by a senior faculty member, and just to make the stakes higher, someone I was considering as an outside reviewer for my tenure case? … Would I take that risk, not knowing if the manuscript would be good? If I took the job, would I be perfectly honest in my review? Would I do a review if I thought I wouldn’t be perfectly honest? I have to admit, probably not.
It occurred to me that when a journal editor asks me if I’ll review an manuscript — now, under conditions of double-blind reviewing but also single-blind — the editor asks if I’m willing & able to review a manuscript on such-and-such a topic. The editor never asks if I’ll review a manuscript on such-and-such a topic by so-and-so. I don’t know the author’s name, in cases of single-blind reviewing, until I receive the manuscript.
So assuming that this practice remains consistent in the situation of sighted reviewing, it’s not like one could decide to or not to review the manuscript based on who the author is. In which case fear of reprisal might keep one from accepting any reviewing at all.
The alternative, of course, is that in the situation of sighted reviewing, the editor would ask reviewers if they’re willing & able to review a manuscript on such-and-such a topic by so-and-so. This seems to be what BMJ is suggesting in this statement:
A few reviewers have said that they don’t want to review if they will be identified, and anyone can decline to review a particular paper.
So the problem is this:
- As John put it, “Google effectively kills double-blind reviewing.” Well put.
- Single-blind reviewing is unfair.
- Sighted reviewing is likely to scare off many reviewers.