The journal that invited me recently to review a submitted paper doesn't have the practice to inform me about the final decision regarding papers I reviewed. So far, this is my third review for them and for the previous two, I didn't get any feedback. As an example, I 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and had radio silence since then (6-7 months ago), so I have no idea whether the paper was accepted, rejected or withdrawn.

Are there any reasons why the details of a peer review process should be kept secret from the reviewers?

I see two levels of consideration to this question. The first is just to inform the reviewer about the decision and the second is to share the complete "public" review correspondence with reviewers. I really fail to see any damage that could occur.

As for my motivation, there is of course the closure of the invested reviewing effort and there is also the feedback whether or not my review was on par with the others (both by recommendations and by comments), which would benefit me in future reviews.

EDIT By "public" I mean the same information that is shared with the authors, specifically the decision at the stage and possibly the comments of the other reviews directed at the authors. The process is not double-blind, so no new revelations are made, the authors remain known, while the reviewers remain anonymous.

  • What does "share the complete 'public' review correspondence" mean? The process is private, hence, there's surely nothing to share. – user2768 Jan 17 '19 at 12:52
  • I'm still confused even after your edit: Neither "the decision at the stage" nor "comments of the other reviews" are public, they are both private. – user2768 Jan 17 '19 at 12:59
  • @user2768 Both are communicated to the authors and are at that point known to the editor, the authors, while the reviewers each only know their own recommendation. And that is the question, why shouldn't they be made available to the participating reviewers? – user3209815 Jan 17 '19 at 13:01
  • As per my answer: it burdens the editor. Reviewers that ask for other reviews will most likely be given them. They might also be given the current decision, but that's probably more closely guarded. – user2768 Jan 17 '19 at 13:35
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    All the journals I routinely review for make a practice of sending me the initial and final decisions for the manuscripts I review, including the other reviewers' comments and the editor's letters to the authors. I had assumed (without really thinking about it) that this was universal, though of course I realize that nothing is universal in academia. I appreciate it because it helps me run quality control on myself, seeing what other reviewers do and don't notice. – iayork Jan 17 '19 at 15:53

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

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).

  • Can you elaborate on the first point, what is the burden? How will the outcome eventually become known to the reviewers? – user3209815 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. – user3209815 Jan 17 '19 at 13:11
  • The editor probably isn't sending out mail directly, the system is, so (B)CC-ing is more troublesome. Withdrawal is the exception I eluded to. Regarding feedback, what are you expecting? As I have explained, you can ask for the reviews, which is a form of feedback. – user2768 Jan 17 '19 at 13:39
  • -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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