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IOP commits to double-blind peer review

IOP Publishing (IOPP) is proposing to move all its owned journals to double-blind peer review, making it, says the company, the first physics publisher to adopt the approach portfolio-wide.

IOP commits to double-blind peer review
Kim Eggleton: “We believe that double-blind peer review is a significant step in the right direction – but it is by no means a panacea.” Photograph: Pietro Jeng on Unsplash.

The move is part of IOPP’s dedication to tackle the significant gender, racial and geographical under-representation in the scholarly publishing process. Double-blind peer review – where the reviewer and author identities are concealed – has the potential to reduce bias with respect to gender, race, country of origin or affiliation which should lead to a more equitable system.

In 2017, IOPP began offering double-blind as an option on Materials Research Express and Biomedical Physics & Engineering Express in response to a growing author demand for the approach. The scheme saw very positive feedback, with most authors reporting it to be fairer than single-blind peer review. Since then three more IOPP journals have begun offering authors a choice of double-blind peer review and there are increasing calls from the academic community to go further.

The rollout will be phased, with the first journals moving to exclusively double-blind peer review by the end of 2020. The aim will be to transition the full portfolio of IOPP-owned journals by the end of 2021.

Kim Eggleton, integrity and inclusion manager at IOP Publishing said. “We believe that keeping both the author and the reviewers anonymous will mean the research is judged more fairly, giving authors a better chance of impartial evaluation. As a learned society publisher embedded within the scientific community, we have a responsibility to do what we can to ensure equality, diversity and inclusivity within science. Not just because diversity has been shown to benefit science, but because it’s the right thing to do.

“We believe that double-blind peer review is a significant step in the right direction – but it is by no means a panacea. There is a lot more work to be done. We're proud to be among the first publishers to actively move away from single-blind but this is just part of the work we are doing to help make physics a more welcoming and equitable space.”

More information on IOP Publishing’s inclusivity work.