Author: Luis-Miguel Romero – Translation: Erika-Lucia Gonzalez-Carrion

The main core of scientific journals lies fundamentally in its peer review process. No matter how much a publication has a first-level Scientific Council, editors of great relevance within a scientific community or the journal is from a renowned university or research center, the basis of its scientific character are precisely the quality of its reviewers, who with their expert opinions, evaluate and value the proposed research.

In the peer review -which does not necessarily mean that they are two or multiples of two, but rather as synonymous with “homologs”-, different modalities can be presented:

  • Single-blind: In which the authors do not know the identity of the reviewers, but the reviewers know the identity of the authors.
  • Double-blind: None of the parties (authors and reviewers) know the identity of the other.
  • Open: In this system both authors and reviewers know their identities and allows authors and reviewers to dialogue in the review process.
  • Collaborative: Also known as the “blockchain revision”, since it is a collaborative platform (forum type) in which the manuscript subject to review is exposed and in which the authors and reviewers can interact without intermediaries, without any knowing the identity of the other.
  • Third-Party: Some magazines usually request that the articles pass, prior to the presentation of the same, a review process by an external agent, generally a payment service, so that with the change and authorization report, it could be published.
  • Post-publication: More than a review process (which is understood to be prior to its publication), it is a system in which journals or platforms allow other experts to comment on the published article.
  • Cascading: It happens when a manuscript is rejected by a magazine, either because the subject is not adapted or because it is not of interest to its readers. In this case, the journal, with the prior authorization of the authors, sends the article to another journal, usually from the same publisher or consortium, together with the revisions made, to continue with the process.

Although most of the typologies mentioned are not usually common, especially in Social Sciences journals, the first two (single and double blind) are the ones that we will most certainly find.

Single-blind peer review

The single-blind peer review (peer review) is a system in which the authors do not know the identity of the reviewers, but the reviewers themselves of the authors. This typology, although not very common in Social Sciences journals, applies in other branches of knowledge. For example, the publisher Nature – one of the most prestigious in the world – uses it as a default option.

This type of review has not been subject to criticism, since it is understood that by affecting the anonymization of authors, reviewers can operate with biases – for better or for worse – or commit anti-ethical practices. However, it also has its defenders, who argue among its advantages:

  • Greater ability to identify, by the reviewers, conflicts of interest (especially needed in journals of medicine, pharmacy or economics, where there are many examples of advertisement practices in favor of brands).
  • Possibility to follow the previous works of the authors and identify “salami-slicing” (unethical practice of dividing investigations into phases to publish partial results).
  • Better ability to detect auto-plagiarism.

Double-blind peer review

Undoubtedly, this modality is the most frequent option in Social Sciences journals, as is the case of Comunicar Journal. As explained, the system of double blind peers is based on the fact that the authors do not know the identity of the reviewers, nor they do not know the identity of the authors.

This system is based mainly on anonymity as the vault key of ethical review practices. However, critics of this modality explain that nowadays, with open repositories, academic and scientific social networks, Google Scholar, among others, anonymity of authors can never be guaranteed.

Moreover, according to a 2008 study by the Publishing Research Consortium, cited by Professor Lluis Codina, 56% of those consulted were in favor of the double-blind system, while 25% were in favor of the simple blind, which leaves in evidence that it is a system that the authors prefer, although it is not the only type of peer reviews that exists or that has demonstrated its efficiency -see examples such as Nature-.

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