As a publisher, we encourage authors and referees to opt for open peer review in Royal Society Open Science. So what do we mean by open peer review?
Traditional peer review is a relatively private affair, with the referee reports being seen by only a handful of individuals and the name of the referee being seen by even fewer. The move towards transparency in scientific publishing has lead to a number of journals adopting a more open model.
On Royal Society Open Science we operate the following model. At all points in the peer review process we will encourage referees to sign their reports, thereby disclosing their name to the author. Where authors agree, we will make the editorial process transparent by publishing referee reports, the substantive part of the decision letter after review and the associated author responses, alongside published articles. This will allow readers to better assess the published paper and provide post-publication comments (which will also be published). If the referees have opted to disclose their names, then these will be included alongside the published reports. Referee reports are made public under an open access licence, CC-BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
An outline of the possible scenarios is listed below:
Author agrees to open peer review - referee agrees to open peer review
Signed referee report made public
Author does not agree to open peer review - referee agrees to open peer review
Referee name only disclosed to author, referee report is not made public
Author agrees to open peer review - referee does not agree to open peer review
Referee name not disclosed to author or made public, referee report made public
Author does not agree to open peer review - referee does not agree to open peer review
Referee name not disclosed to author, referee report is not made public