2018 Peer Review Week Q&A




Peer Review Week Q&A with JNeurosci and eNeuro Editors-in-Chief

Diversity and Inclusion in Peer Review | September 3 - 15, 2018

To continue this discussion on a different platform, check out the discussion post on the new eNeuro blog site.

Join us here in the Neuronline Community for the 2nd Annual Peer Review Week Q&A. The forum will open to the public for questions on September 3rd. The EiCs will answer questions beginning September 10th.

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Hello! The most common argument I have heard against double-blind review is that most scientists in the field recognize the writing of their colleagues and peers. Any thoughts on that?


I actually do at times! And I can also recognize the writing style of some of my reviewers. Nonetheless, I disregard any thought I may have about who the author/reviewer might be. When reviewing a manuscript, even if peer-review is not blind, I tend not to check the authors’ names and affiliations (i.e., I skip the cover page). It is fundamental for me to solely focus on the manuscript in order to provide an objective assessment of the work and, equally important, to provide fair and constructive comments.


I actually have another question, which involves double-blind peer-review. Do you think it may help offset the bias that some reviewers clearly show towards emerging scientists?


My question is what does diversity really mean in the context of peer review? Is it just about race and gender?


Submitted question:

What effort is made so that the journal reviewer make up reflects the diversity of authors submitting manuscripts? In my opinion, it’s going to be hard to change the peer review process without bringing in different thinkers!


Submitted question:

When you talk about diversity, does that also include age and career stage? Should we be working to ger students and postdocs into the peer review process earlier in their careers?


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Submitted question:

This is a more general question but I want to know what is the process to become a reviewer for JNeuro or eNeuro?


Submitted question:

My two questions:

  1. Does JNeuro have a diversity policy for reviewers?
  2. Do you think changing how reviewers are chosen would help increase diversity?



Submitted question:

Are you aware of any initiatives that [are] working to make peer review more inclusive?


I was wondering the same. I think that, in a broader sense, it may also include:

  • different career stages
  • different scientific backgrounds in light of the highly multi-disciplinary nature of many research efforts
    Regarding the latter, what would an editor consider the most, when two reviewers from two distinct backgrounds (e.g., biology and engineering) express discordant opinions? And for us, as researchers submitting our work, what do we consider best practice when indicating potential reviewers? Do we remain in our comfort zone or do we expand on the broad range of disciplines that our work may encompass?


Disclosing our identity as reviewers to the authors: is it a good idea?
I just signed my review for a paper and I decided to do it because I think that it’s important that we take responsibility for our comments. Nonetheless, authors may be encouraged to draw a list a potential reviewers who demonstrate a good understanding of their work, as well as a list of reviewers to be excluded. I think that reviewers’ names should always be disclosed, whether the manuscript is accepted or rejected. Some journals only disclose the names of reviewers who have endorsed publication. But I think that this way some (unfair) peers will keep hiding behind anonymity, which in turn can only foster unfairness further, in my opinion.
Any thoughts?


We apologize for the inconvenience to those of you who tried to contribute to this conversation. Due to some technical problems, we have had persistent log in issues that will take some time to resolve. Although it is unlikely to be resolved in the next week, we will be leaving this discussion open another week.

Our Editors-in-Chief are also experiencing log in errors but will be responding as soon as possible. Thank you for contributions and your patience. Please note that you are still welcome to submit questions by email questions to neuronline@sfn.org.


I think it depends on how we were educated. During my time no one would have ever even imagined to disclose their names as a reviewer. This was just not done. Personally i would never want my name to be disclosed as a reviewer and likewise I am not at all interested in knowing who reviewed my article. I know we used to spend time trying to guess the reviewer base on their typewriter. Yes typewriter we did not have computers back then,. Comments were also used to try to guess their identity. But we left it at a guessing game no one would reveal their identity. I guess times have changed but for me leave it anonymous .


I think that disclosing reviewers’ identities is still a somewhat controversial matter… But I felt I had to do it and, if I can say it, I felt some sort of relief, like “you know who I am, you know I’m being honest”. I hope that, by doing this, eventually others will be encouraged to do the same and, ultimately, we will pursue more transparency and fairness in the review process.


Because of technical errors on this discussion platform, we all experienced log in problems. This unfortunately affected our ability to have a proper discussion. However, eNeuro has just launched a blog site that includes discussion posts, where we would like to hear from you. We would like to offer the invitation to you to move this discussion to the first discussion post that centers around this same them. Come join the conversation.

Christophe Bernard