Nature Climate Change will now ask reviewers if they can be named on the published paper they reviewed.
Peer review is an essential part of the publication process, which through scrutiny of submitted articles strives to minimize errors and improve papers. The system of peer review has been generally consistent at Nature Research over recent decades: single blind, where the reviewers are anonymous to the authors.
This changed from June 2013, when we and Nature Geoscience offered authors the choice of their paper being considered under double-blind peer review, that is, where authors are unknown to the reviewers (Nat. Clim. Change 3, 525; 2013). Although there was relatively low uptake, this was recognized as a good service and the offer has been expanded across the Nature Research titles; it remains an author choice.
In another initiative, our sister journal Nature Communications has offered the publication of peer review reports since January 2016 (Nat. Commun. 6, 10277; 2015). The publication of reports and author rebuttals allows greater transparency of the review process and the information on which the editors base their decisions. The data for the first year of the initiative show a high level of uptake, particularly in ecology and evolution and the earth sciences (there is no data for social sciences), with over 70% author opt in. This compares to an average of 60% across all natural sciences at the journal (Nat. Commun. 7, 13626; 2016).
These two initiatives offer changes predominantly on the author side of peer review, but what about the reviewers? Reviewers put in countless hours, with little recognition of these efforts. At Nature Research, reviewers are able to download a report of their referee activity across all journals in the family. This report can be accessed through your account on any of the journals submission pages, by accessing your ‘My Nature Research’ account and clicking on the manuscript tab.
In the coming weeks, Nature Climate Change will begin asking reviewers if they wish to be acknowledged for their contribution to the peer review process. This follows on from a trial at Nature that began in March 2016, in which if reviewer consent is obtained at the time the manuscript is accepted, reviewer names are included with thanks in the published paper. In the first 18 months ~50% of reviewers consented (Nature 549, 431; 2017). If reviewers consent, we will include those names with thanks in the published paper, as well as a general thanks to those who choose to remain anonymous.
We recognize that this is one small step towards recognition of the many hours put in by reviewers, and will continue to discuss other initiatives — do get in touch with comments and suggestions. We would also like to take this opportunity to again thank all our reviewers for their efforts.