SREL Reprint #1913





Human Nature And Peer Review: An Argument For Anonymity

Burke, V.J.

I read with interest Wilson and McCranie's (1993) critique of the anonymous peer review system. Clearly, their experience with the peer review system is considerable, given their extensive publication histories and editorial experience. I have reviewed six manuscripts for three herpetology journals and one general science journal and have published seven peer-reviewed articles during the six years I have been actively engaged in research. Although admittedly less experienced than Wilson and McCranie, I hope my views will bring the perspective of a less established researcher in to the discussion on the merits of anonymity.

After acknowledging that peer review is a necessary component of the publication process, Wilson and McCranie outlined several pros and cons of anonymity in the peer review system. They cite several herpetological editors who favor preservation of the anonymous system and outline the pro-anonymity arguments as follows:

1. The anonymous system protects less established persons against retribution by established colleagues

2. Anonymity encourages free expression.

3. Anonymity levels the "playing field" by forcing authors to thoughtfully consider the comments of a reviewer without knowledge of reviewer's status.

SREL Reprint #1913

Burke, V.J. 1994. Human nature and peer review: An argument for anonymity. Herpetological Review 25:157-158.

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