Recently, the single-blind peer-review process failed to appropriately deal with highly sexist comments. An anonymous reviewer provided a sexist review and the Academic Editor forwarded it on. They have since blacklisted the reviewer and asked the Academic Editor to step down. While I think that blind peer review provides useful protection for reviewers, are Academic Editors generally provided anonymity? Further, is there any precedence for when a journal should reveal the name of a reviewer?
While I think that blind peer review provides useful protection for reviewers, are Academic Editors generally provided anonymity?
In my experience this is rare but not unheard of. For example, the PNAS submission guidelines specify that the editor handling the paper will remain anonymous until the paper is accepted. Presumably this is meant to protect editors from retribution over a rejected paper. I'm not convinced this is necessary, but the existence of these policies indicates that someone must care.
Further, is there any precedence for when a journal should reveal the name of a reviewer?
I'm not aware of any policy that allows journals to reveal the name of a reviewer without the reviewer's consent. It could be reasonable in a case like this, but I wouldn't want to be in charge of writing a policy delineating when it is or isn't allowed.
Anonymity, when used for any scientific role, is intended to make it easier for people to conduct honest scientific assessments. It is not intended to be a shield from which to attack with impunity.
In business, there is a concept of "piercing the corporate veil," in which the shielding of corporate liability limits is removed in cases of gross misconduct. Likewise, I think that it is reasonable to pierce the veil of scientific anonymity in cases of gross misconduct. This recent case of "please add a male author" is one such; others could include abusive personal attacks or plagiarism.
I'm not sure that exact boundaries of such a policy would need to be spelled out in advance: simply saying "anonymity may be breached in cases of gross misconduct" may be sufficient.