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I recently reviewed a manuscript submitted to a Journal. Today, I received the editor's response to the authors, which included all the reviews made by the (anonymous) reviewers.

I was particularly (and positively) impressed with the review of another reviewer for several reasons. I'd gladly appreciate the possibility of contacting this reviewer, both to express my thoughts and also to discuss about similar topics.

Hence the question: would it be acceptable if I asked the editor to disclose information about this reviewer?

My only concern is that the editor may not appreciate a similar request, which could lead to not being invited to review manuscripts of this journal anymore (which is something I really like doing).

To provide more specific context:

  • The field is Computer Science;
  • The reviewing process assumes that the reviewers do not know the identity of other reviewers, but they do know the identity of the manuscript's authors;
  • The reviewers carried out their reviewing duties independently: they were able to read the other reviewers' opinion only after the editor sent their decision to the authors.
  • The (associate) editor knows the identity of both the reviewers and the authors;
  • It is safe to assume that no conflict of interest exists between reviewers and authors.

Finally, I remark that I am asking this question as a reviewer (and not as an author).

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – cag51 Jul 16 at 18:25
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I have a very simple solution to propose:

  • Write a message directly to the other reviewer whom you would like to know. Address it to the reviewer, not to the editor.
  • In the message, identify yourself and give your contact information. Ask the reviewer to contact you if they are interested.
  • Send that message to the editor and ask the editor to please transfer it to the other reviewer, either immediately, or later in the review process (perhaps after a decision is made) when the editor feels comfortable doing so.

Note one important difference from what you ask in your question: rather than asking to be able to contact the reviewer directly, you are asking the reviewer to contact you. This is a very important difference because it gives other people more choice in the matter.

The editor will either transfer the message to the other reviewer (either immediately or after a decision is made, perhaps after you have sent a reminder) or will explain to you why they do not feel comfortable with your request. The advantages of this proposal are:

  • There is no moral concern because you do everything openly before the editor; you even show the editor the contents of the message, so the editor has no concern of anything improper going on.
  • You give the other reviewer the choice if they are comfortable with the contact. If they are not, the editor has not divulged their information to you. This relieves pressure from the editor.
  • You leave the editor free to judge the appropriateness of the contact. So, it is not your responsibility, but the editor's.
  • Even if the editor decides not to give you the reviewer's contact information, the editor should be able to respect that your intention was sincere, your approach was transparent without pressuring anyone, and the editor should not have any negative impression of you.
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    Thank you for your answer. Your suggestion is indeed very spot-on! – P. Shark Jul 15 at 9:27
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    This is an excellent answer. Personally, I would emphasise waiting until after a decision has been made, or even publication. It is also field specific, in subjects where preprints are the norm this seems unobjectionable. In others where pre-publication secrecy is normal, an author might be unimpressed if the referees got together to discuss the implications of research shared in confidence. – dothyphendot Jul 17 at 18:59
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I've never encountered this. My inclination would be to ask the other reviewer if they're OK with the request. If they decline, then that would be final. After all there is usually nothing stopping a reviewer from identifying themselves if they wish; I certainly know of people who gave away their reviewer duties during private conversations.

It probably won't hurt to ask, because the worst that can happen is the editor says "no". If you do ask, I would definitely give the reason, since otherwise it's rather suspicious. You may also have to reveal your own identity first.

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  • Thank you. To provide more specific context, this question is related to the Computer Science field. So you confirm that there is nothing wrong in asking the editor? – P. Shark Jul 15 at 5:16
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    @P. Shark. The editor might pass the info to the other referee like a receptionist can call a guest instead of giving the room number at first. I do not see problems with that. The editor might, but s/he would just say no bcz our policy etc etc.... So go ahead. Plus 1. – Alchimista Jul 15 at 10:34
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In the UK or Europe, it would normally be illegal for the institution to disclose any information about that reviewer… even to confirm your guess about an identity.

Why would it be a problem for you to ask the editor to pass on your own details, with a request for contact?

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