1. Dougherty, Molly C. PhD, RN

Article Content

Open peer review, advocated for a decade (Fabiato, 1994; Smith, 1999), has taken several forms. Open peer review, narrowly defined, means that the reviewer signs his or her review. In blind manuscript review, the author does not know the identity of his or her reviewer. More broadly defined, open review involves posting signed reviews so that many reviewers or readers can engage in the unfolding review process prior to final publication. Open reviews (signed reviews) are supported as a means to make reviewers more responsible for their comments and to minimize bias against or in favor of certain authors or institutions (Godlee & Jefferson, 2003).


At Nursing Research, we are taking a first step in open peer review not so much for the reasons above, but because it is instructive for potential authors to see what reviews contain, how manuscripts are revised based on them, and the contribution of the editorial office.


Our goal is to attract and select the best manuscripts in nursing. In the peer review process we use the range of expert opinion in the scientific community to identify strengths and weaknesses in manuscripts in order to select and improve the best ones. Encouraging inexperienced authors is a part of attracting the innovative research that moves science ahead. Posting reviews with related correspondence provides authors with information about the review process that is usually private. Increased transparency in the review process allows a potential author to see the process from start to finish.


To begin the open review process, we selected manuscripts that received informative, constructive reviews (Beck in this issue; Choe and colleagues, forthcoming). The authors and reviewers gave permission for posting their reviews after the fact (a deviance from usual open peer review). Correspondence from the author and editor are posted also (see Open Manuscript Review highlighted on the home page at


A bias in this first step is that the manuscripts received uniformly positive reviews and therefore does not reflect accurately the amount of give-and-take between the author, reviewers, and editor that customarily accompany a published manuscript. An expansion of the open review process will include more critical reviews. We are interested in the usefulness of open peer review to our readers and would like to hear from you. A form for your comments is on the Web page. Your comments will be used to guide an expansion of open peer review in Nursing Research.


This first step in open peer review addresses wide interests in making the peer review process accessible and transparent to our readers.




Fabiato, A. (1994). Anonymity of reviewers. Cardiovascular Research, 28, 1134-9. [Context Link]


Godlee, F. & Dickersin, K. (2003). Peer review in health sciences. BMJ Publishing Group. [Context Link]


Smith, R. (1999). Opening up BMJ peer review. BMJ, 318, 3-5. [Context Link]