‘Open research’ isn’t just about sharing resources like data, code, and papers, although this is a big part of it. One big, and often under-appreciated aspect of it is about making research accessible, inclusive, and participatory. A major principle driving this is leveraging transparency to bring processes and factors that are currently hidden into public view.
One area of research and scholarly communication where the debate is still very much ongoing for this is for peer review – our system of validation and gatekeeping to the vast archives of public knowledge.
OpenAIRE have released an important new survey and analysis on attitudes and experiences towards ‘Open Peer Review’ (OPR), based on more than 3000 respondents (full data available here to play with). This is important, as OPR is all about the principles above – making the process transparent, collaborative, inclusive, and in the end, better!
Below, we discuss some of the major findings of the survey, and how we at ScienceOpen fit into the bigger picture of Open Peer Review.
The future is Open
The main result of the survey is that the majority (60.3%) of respondents are in favour of OPR becoming a mainstream scholarly practice, particularly regarding open interaction, open reports and final-version commenting. Part of this is due to the relatively lower satisfaction scores reported, with just 56.4% of respondents being satisfied with traditional closed peer review, and 20.6% being dissatisfied – a much lower gap than all previous reports. From the survey, more than three quarters of respondents had previously engaged with OPR either as an author, reviewer, or editor. This suggests that OPR, in one form or another, is already probably more common practice than we might think.
Interestingly, this development is similar to what we saw with other aspects of ‘open science’ such as open access and open data – there is debate, experimentation, variable implementation, and finally they start to become accepted as the norm as policies, practices, and cultures adapt. The survey also showed that 88.2% of respondents were in favour of Open Access to publications, a much higher value than several years ago. It also found that support for OPR is correlated with support for Open Data and Open Access, which is perhaps not surprising, although conversations regarding OPR are still in their relative infancy.
This suggests that as debates around OPR mature, we are likely to see an increase in the uptake and support of it, as with other areas of ‘Open’. Indeed, the survey also found a difference in generational support for OPR, with younger generations favouring it more over more-established researchers. As it is these generations who will inherit and govern the system in the future, it is more likely to have the characteristics that they favour.