The New York Times just posted an interesting story of how a group of scholars in the humanities are experimenting with open peer review. The experiment is happening in the Shakespeare Quarterly in a special issue on, appropriately, Shakespeare and New Media. The articles are yet to be published (we’ll keep an eye and update this blog when they are) but the transcripts of the reviews are available. According to the site, the experiment included” “the exchanges that took place around four essays under consideration for possible publication in SQ 61:4 and three reviews accepted for publication. The editors invited thoughtful feedback from Shakespeare scholars and other readers on any essay that fell within their areas of expertise — in terms of its originality, accuracy, and stylistic and rhetorical merits.” They asked readers to register in their own names.
They elaborated further on the process saying "Traditionally, submissions to SQ undergo three review phases: an initial screening by the editors, external reviews by experts selected by the Editor, and a final publication decision by the Editor. We adjusted those phases in this model. An expert reviewer (the guest editor) joined the first stage. For those essays passed on to the second stage, we offered the option of open vetting followed by a period of revision. We agreed that only posted comments would affect the publication decision and that the final decision would be based on the revised versions. As in the traditional process, that decision rested with the Editor — hence the label “partially open”, by contrast to review models where authority is fully distributed, in the mode of the open web."
Interestingly, usually submissions to the journal are "double blinded", which seems at odds with this open peer review.
Experiments such as this are fascinating and have thus far mostly been in scientific journals, eg at the physics arxiv and the BioMedCentral medical journals. We’d be very interested to hear of any other journals considering such projects or, if they have already done them, what the out come was.