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I have reviewed several papers for a particular journal in the field of computer science. This journal has the practice of not informing reviewers about the final decision. As an example, I previously suggested a major revision and after a couple of weeks I received the revised paper, then I suggested a minor revision and had radio silence since then (6-7 months ago), so I have no idea whether the paper was accepted, rejected or withdrawn.

To me, it seems like both the decision and the non-blinded, non-private parts of the correspondence should be shared. This seems reasonable given the effort I expended; further, it would be helpful for my future reviews to know whether my review was on par with the others (in terms of both the decision, and the comments). It seems like there is already software that would automate this process (this journal uses Open Journal System as its editorial management system).

Are there disadvantages I am overlooking? What are the arguments for not sharing this information with the reviewers?

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One possible rationale would be a belief that the acceptance decision ought to be a confidential matter between the journal and the author, and the reviewers simply don't have a "need to know".

The argument "it is important feedback for the reviewer" isn't very strong, in my view. Knowing the fate of the paper doesn't really give you much information about whether your review was helpful in reaching that decision, and certainly doesn't tell how you could have made it better. Conversely, if the editor wants to give you feedback on your review, they can certainly do so without revealing the final decision.

By analogy, consider what happens when you write recommendation letters for people. When they apply to a school or employer, the school doesn't tell you whether the applicant was accepted or not, because they consider it to be nobody's business except the applicants's (and privacy laws may back this up). Of course this is a different situation in many ways, but I think the underlying principle is the same - having been part of a process doesn't, in and of itself, entitle you to information about the result which would otherwise be confidential.

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    Or from a slightly different angle, not just do reviewers not have a "need to know", they also don't really have a "vote to alter the outcome". I can imagine an editor implementing this policy after reviewers complained about the editors' final decisions when it conflicted with their recommendation.
    – Bryan Krause
    Sep 10 '20 at 4:03
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I don't think you should become overly invested in the articles you review. This is similar to other questions I have seen from reviewers about wanting to do a third level of reviews or the like.

You need to de-emphasize your importance in the process. The primary responsibility for the paper is on the author. Secondary on the editor. And only tertiary the reviewer.

Do a decent job on the review but do NOT become invested in the article meeting all of your advice or being stopped (or promoted) based on your review.

Consider your review to be feedback and then move on.

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    -1 This doesn't answer the question. Also, informing reviewers seems like common courtesy to me rather than an issue of the reviewer's importance.
    – Thomas
    Feb 6 '19 at 20:21
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Are there any reasons why the details of a peer review process should be kept secret from the reviewers?

Yes, it burdens the editor.

Reviewers can ask for---and in my experience will receive---reviews from fellow reviewers.

The outcome of the peer review process will eventually be known to reviewers (with a few exceptions).

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  • Can you elaborate on the first point, what is the burden? How will the outcome eventually become known to the reviewers? Jan 17 '19 at 12:59
  • @user3209815 Regarding the first question: You want the editor to do more, that's a burden on the editor. For the second: the manuscript is either published or not, hence, the outcome can be inferred (with a few exceptions).
    – user2768
    Jan 17 '19 at 13:00
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    Exactly :) The info is already sent to the authors, so CC-ing the reviewers is no additional trouble (can be automated). It is of course clear that I can afterwards find the accepted papers, but the missing ones are problematic, are they scheduled for a later date, rejected or withdrawn. And finally, zero feedback makes it hard to improve one's future reviews. Jan 17 '19 at 13:11
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    -1 Any decent software will do this with zero effort. I would also like to remind you that reviewing burdens the reviewers.
    – Thomas
    Feb 6 '19 at 20:22
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    @user2768 Actually, as someone who's currently using an automated system for editors that does semi-automate the sending of appropriate emails to authors and reviewers, I agree with Thomas. Some software does do this - I'm using it right now. Also, from personal experience, there's a lot more work in reviewing than editing, so it is reasonable to ask editors to spend the minimal effort required to keep reviewers in the loop. Jun 3 '20 at 16:10

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