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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Masking author identity in peer review: what factors influence masking success? PEER Investigators.

CONTEXT: In a previous study, we found that masking success was higher at a journal that masked reviewers to author identity. We hypothesized that masking policy or other factors could be associated with masking success. OBJECTIVES: To evaluate differences in success of masking reviewers to author identity at 7 biomedical journals and to identify factors associated with these differences. DESIGN: Written questionnaire. PARTICIPANTS: Reviewers at 3 journals with a long-standing policy of masking author identity (Annals of Emergency Medicine, Epidemiology, and Journal of the American Geriatrics Society) and 4 journals without a policy of masking author identity (Annals of Internal Medicine, JAMA, Obstetrics & Gynecology, and Ophthalmology). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Masking success (percentage of reviewers successfully masked) and reviewer characteristics associated with masking. RESULTS: There was no significant difference in masking success between journals with a policy of masking (60%) and those without (58%) (P= .92). We found no association between masking success and a policy of masking when adjusted for the reviewer characteristics of age, sex, years of reviewing experience, number of articles published, number of articles reviewed, percentage of time spent in research, editorial experience, or academic rank (odds ratio [OR], 1.3; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.64-2.8; P=.43). In multivariable analysis of reviewer characteristics, reviewers spending a greater percentage of time in research, the only significant predictor of masking success, were less likely to be successfully masked (OR, 1.01; 95% CI, 1.00-1.02) (P=.04). CONCLUSIONS: Masking success appears unrelated to a journal policy of masking, but is associated with reviewers' research experience and could be affected by other characteristics. Using reviewers with less research and reviewing experience might increase masking success, but the effect on review quality is unknown.[1]


  1. Masking author identity in peer review: what factors influence masking success? PEER Investigators. Cho, M.K., Justice, A.C., Winker, M.A., Berlin, J.A., Waeckerle, J.F., Callaham, M.L., Rennie, D. JAMA (1998) [Pubmed]
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