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2 thoughts on “Editorial: Developing peer review”

  1. In my view the updated reviewer guidelines are certainly a step in the right direction. Focusing reviews on the key issues will save time for all parties involved and will overall improve peer review.
    However, I must agree that these changes are conservative relative to what is tried at other journals and I regret that Development is watching changes in peer review from a distance instead of taking initiative. I am particularly disappointed that Development will continue to not publish peer review files along the final paper. Whereas there is much controversy around proposed changes to reviewer and author anonymity, several arguments have been made for publication of peer review files: (1) Review files are a valuable resource for junior scientists learning how to write effective reviews. (2) Review files often contain additional information and questions which do not end up in the final paper but can be very informative for the reader. (3) Peer review reports legitimate the decision of the editor. (4) The knowledge that reviews will end up in the public domain provides an additional incentive for reviewers to provide fair, balanced and well written reviews.
    On the other hand I have difficulty thinking of legitimate reasons for not publishing anonymous peer review files. It would be great if you could give more insights into the view at Development regarding the publication of review files. Many thanks.

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    1. Thanks for your comment Fillip.

      Publishing referee reports is something we have discussed among the editorial team. With limited time and resources, we have to prioritise changes to the journal, and we all felt that it was more important to make these changes to the reviewer guidelines and forms than it would be to publish the review files. This has taken some time to implement, and now that we have the new system in place, we would like to see it bed in (and monitor how referees respond to the changes) before making any further changes.

      Having been part of the team at The EMBO Journal that introduced the transparent review process, I appreciate the advantages of the system, which you clearly spell out in your comment. It does also mean that I recognise the hurdles involved, many of which revolve around workload and workflows. That said, we certainly have not made any firm decision either way – it is something we will continue to review and discuss among the editorial team, and potentially also with the broader community.

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