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Title: Attitudes Toward Blinding of Peer Review and Perceptions of Efficacy Within a Small Biomedical Specialty

Purpose: Peer reviewers' knowledge of author identity may influence review content, quality, and recommendations. Therefore, the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics (“Red Journal”) implemented double-blinded peer review in 2011. Given the relatively small size of the specialty and the high frequency of preliminary abstract presentations, we sought to evaluate attitudes, the efficacy of blinding, and the potential impact on the disposition of submissions. Methods and Materials: In May through August 2012, all Red Journal reviewers and 1 author per manuscript completed questionnaires regarding demographics, attitudes, and perceptions of success of blinding. We also evaluated correlates of the outcomes of peer review. Results: Questionnaires were received from 408 authors and 519 reviewers (100%). The majority of respondents favored double blinding; 6% of authors and 13% of reviewers disagreed that double blinding should continue in the Red Journal. In all, 50% of the reviewers did not suspect the identity of the author of the paper that they reviewed; 19% of reviewers believed that they could identify the author(s), and 31% suspected that they could. Similarly, 23% believed that they knew the institution(s) from which the paper originated, and 34% suspected that they did. Among those who at least suspected authormore » identity, 42% indicated that prior presentations served as a clue, and 57% indicated that literature referenced did so. Of those who at least suspected origin and provided details (n=133), 13% were entirely incorrect. Rejection was more common in 2012 than 2011, and submissions from last authors with higher H-indices (>21) were more likely to survive initial review, without evidence of interactions between submission year and author gender or H-index. Conclusions: In a relatively small specialty in which preliminary research presentations are common and occur in a limited number of venues, reviewers are often familiar with research findings and suspect author identity even when manuscript review is blinded. Nevertheless, blinding appears to be effective in many cases, and support for continuing blinding was strong.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [2] ;  [5] ;  [6]
  1. Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan (United States)
  2. Scientific Publications, American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), Fairfax, Virginia (United States)
  3. Center for Cancer Biostatistics, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, Michigan (United States)
  4. Center for Bioethics and Social Science in Medicine and Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan (United States)
  5. University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas (United States)
  6. Department of Radiation Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology and Physics; Journal Volume: 89; Journal Issue: 5; Other Information: Copyright (c) 2014 Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam, The Netherlands, All rights reserved.; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States