The Peer Review Process: Single versus Double Blind

Peer review is the process of subjecting an author’s research to the scrutiny of others who are experts in the same field, prior to presenting their work at a conference and/or publication in a journal.

The main role of the peer review process is to reinforce the credibility of research by facilitating its’ evaluation and to improve the overall quality of published papers.

While peer review remains the dominant method for research validation, there are many ways that this review process can be facilitated. The principal types of peer reviews are single blind, and double blind.

We’ve previously spoken about single and double blind before, in this article, I’ll compare both reviewing types and state the various advantages and disadvantages.

Single Blind:

In a single blind peer review, the reviewers’ identity is kept anonymous from the authors. However, the reviewers can see the author details. 

Advantages

The main advantage of single blind reviewing it it allows the reviewer to critique a paper without any influence being exerted by the author. If a reviewer knows their name will be visible to the author or the public, they may not give their true opinion in case it’s perceived as too critical.

Knowing their name will be kept anonymous gives reviewers the freedom to say what they really think.

Disadvantages

Even though it’s the most widely used form of peer review, it’s not always looked upon in a positive light in the academic community.

For example, a survey by the Publishing Research Consortium found that whilst 85% of respondents had experienced single-blind review, only 52% described it as effective (and it was the preferred option for only 25%).

Double blind:

In a double blind peer review the identity of both the author and reviewer is kept hidden.

Advantages

While double blind has all the benefits of single blind, it takes it to another level. Both the reviewer and author are kept anonymous from each other. This guards against reviews being influenced by the author’s reputation, and perceptions based on her/his previous work.

Another benefit it reduces the possibility of bias. Bias can take many forms, for example, gender.

Disadvantages

In practice, however, it is likely that this is not really blind. The research community is relatively small, so it is often apparent who the author is based on self-citation, subject, or writing/presentation style.

The survey referred to above was much more positive in its assessment of double blind reviews, although direct experience of it was restricted to 45% of respondents. Despite this, 71% of respondents described it as effective, and it was the preferred option for 56%.

How it works at Ex Ordo

Ex Ordo is an example of a system that enables both single blind and double blind peer review.

There are other elements that you can feed into the reviewing with the Ex Ordo system. For example, you can prevent nepotism based on email domain and organisation. This is used to prevent a conflict of interest between the reviewer and author and when combined with the double blind review, it makes a conference’s review very strong.

To see how this works in practice, why not schedule a quick demo with our team?

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