I got some impressively lengthy, detailed and mostly positive feedback in a double-blind peer review for a paper. Is it ok (or even possible), or is it against best practices (and considered taboo), to try to find out who the reviewer was - just in case you can get more feedback and share ideas related to the topic at hand?
If one got good feedback from a double-blind review, is it ever possible/ justifiable to find out who the reviewer was?
6If you have questions, you can forward them through your editor. But asking to unblind the reviewer is not a suitable request.– RoboKarenMar 3, 2015 at 16:17
As @SE318 explains (+1), it is unethical to try and find out who a reviewer is. However it is not unethical for a reviewer to identify themselves if the so choose (some journals specifically give this option in their review form). I can't see much problem with sending the journal a polite request for the editor to pass on a message explaining what you had in mind so that if the reviewer was interested in collaborating they could contact you.
1boy that was quick, downvoter, I'd be interested to hear your objection. Mar 3, 2015 at 16:05
1I am not the downvoter but I do have a slight objection to this. This is, at least in my mind, a morally grey area. It seems innocent to ask the editor to pass along a message, but you must be careful. If someone reviews something double-blind, then receives a letter asking to reveal themselves, it can put undue pressure on them(Albeit, his pressure is light, but not non-existent). They might feel bad if they don't reveal themselves, but might not want to. If this was common practice in double-blind reviews, that would eliminate the ability of a review to be completely honest while reviewing.– SE318Mar 3, 2015 at 18:22
1@SE318 thanks for the feedback, I would say that the pressure generated by this was essentially negligible. As the author has no idea who the reviewer is, there will never be any awkwardness caused by not responding to the message (whilst being pleased with the complement of the review implied by the invitation). Also any potential disadvantage has to be evaluated against the potential benefit of the opportunity for collaboration (which is an important part of science and where many advances in science originate). Mar 3, 2015 at 18:54
You're probably right that it is negligible. I sometimes have an overactive imagination, and fear that if this was allowed to be common practice now, in a few decades it could be considered rude not to respond(slowly built from people expressing their frustrations when they don't hear back from the reviewers), in which case the idea of the double-blind review would be compromised.– SE318Mar 3, 2015 at 19:01
1@SE318 Even if it became rude, I think the internet has proven to us that people don't have a problem being rude when anonymous. Mar 4, 2015 at 5:05
It is not just taboo, it is unethical to try to find out who the reviewer is, and would defeat the purpose of the double-blind. Part of the idea of double-blind is that one is able to be completely honest since they know their comments cannot be tracked back to them. I strongly advise against trying to find out who the commenter is.
Theoretically it may be possible to find out who the reviewer is, but this is a problem with the system, and you should not attempt to do this.