OpenAIRE survey: open peer review is moving mainstream

OpenAIRE today releases the results of its survey conducted in Autumn 2016, which gauged the views towards open peer review (OPR) of over 3,062 editors, authors and reviewers. The report, entitled “OpenAIRE survey on open peer review: Attitudes and experience amongst editors, authors and reviewers” shows that open peer review is moving mainstream, with high levels of enthusiasm and experience amongst those surveyed.

Read the report:

Report Abstract: Open peer review (OPR) is a cornerstone of the emergent Open Science agenda. Yet to date no large-scale survey of attitudes towards OPR amongst academic editors, authors, reviewers and publishers has been undertaken. This paper presents the findings of an online survey, conducted for the OpenAIRE2020 project during September and October 2016, that sought to bridge this information gap in order to aid the development of appropriate OPR approaches by providing evidence about attitudes towards and levels of experience with OPR. The results of this cross-disciplinary survey, which received 3,062 full responses, show the majority of respondents to be in favour of OPR becoming mainstream scholarly practice, as they also are for other areas of Open Science, like Open Access and Open Data. We also observe surprisingly high levels of experience with OPR, with three out of four (76.2%) respondents reporting having taken part in an OPR process as either author, reviewer or editor. There were also high levels of support for most of the traits of OPR, particularly open interaction, open reports and final-version commenting. Respondents were against opening reviewer identities to authors, however, with more than half believing it would make peer review worse. Overall satisfaction with the peer review system used by scholarly journals seems to strongly vary across disciplines. Taken together, these findings are very encouraging for OPR’s prospects for moving mainstream but indicate that due care must be taken to avoid a “one-size fits all” solution and to tailor such systems to differing (especially disciplinary) contexts. More research is also needed. OPR is an evolving phenomenon and hence future studies are to be encouraged, especially to further explore differences between disciplines and monitor the evolution of attitudes.

Figure 1. “Will ”X“ make peer review better, worse, or have no effect?”

Note: This report is a pre-print of an article intended for peer-reviewed publication. The authors gratefully invite comments until 22 May 2017 here on the OpenAIRE blog – please leave any reviews/comments in the comments section below. All feedback will be gratefully received.

For direct questions or comments, please contact:

Further OpenAIRE outputs investigating open peer review:

  • Ross-Hellauer T. 2017. What is open peer review? A systematic review [version 1; referees: awaiting peer review]. F1000Research, 6:588. (doi: 10.12688/f1000research.11369.1)
  • OpenAIRE. 2016. OpenAIRE’s Experiments in Open Peer Review. Zenodo 2016. doi:(10.5281/zenodo.154647)
  • Deppe, A., Hermans, E., Ross-Hellauer, T. 2016. Open Peer Review – Models, Benefits and Limitations / Workshop Report. Zenodo. (doi:10.5281/zenodo.61378)


Tony Ross-Hellauer

OpenAIRE2020 Scientific Manager at Göttingen State and University Library, University of Göttingen. Email:

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  1. Hi,

    I have two comments.

    some more detailed data on marketing of the survey would be needed. Specially in social media it can easily happen that supporters of Open Peer Review more likely will see such a survey and also more likely attend such a survey. How did you engage researchers more critically about the topic? If the survey is already marketed a survey about Open Peer Review the result is maybe different if you ask similar questions in a survey about the Peer Review System in general. If the survey is about Open Peer Review maybe scientists who are totally against it are not willing attend the study. Certainly this behavior would have an big impact on the interpretation of the results.

    With nearly 50% Earth and env. scientists in total the share in the area of STM would be even higher. To formulate in case results for the whole STM field is quite tendentious. The scientific communication in the different fields of STM are too different to draw conclusions for STM.

    Even if both problems can’t be solved they should be discussed in the paper.

    • Tony Ross-Hellauer says:

      Hi Patrick,

      Many thanks for taking the time to read and comment. The issues you raise are very important. The first issue is one general to open web surveys – how can we be sure of avoiding bias amongst the people who choose to take part? Point taken that we could expand on what we did to try to avoid/mitigate this – we’ll expand in the revised version. As background: We did explicitly try to attract also critical voices – for example, by asking the Scholarly Kitchen blog to distribute information to their readers (which they did). We are also open in the report in stating that self-selection amongst participants might skew the results towards a more pro-“open” point of view. Finally, we made a point of repeating a question from several previous general peer review survey (Ware) regarding general levels of satisfaction with the current system of schol comms – with the aim of gauging to what extent our collection method skewed towards those more favourable to “open” than the general population.

      Regarding your second point, you are right that the coverage of differing disciplines is certainly uneven, and that the differences between STM subjects are huge in terms of methods and attitudes. Nonetheless, I do think it is valuable and interesting (and fairly standard practice within the literature) to draw the distinction between STEM subjects and Humanities/Social Sciences. Nonetheless, we’ll see what we can do to improve this analysis for the revision.

      Best, Tony

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