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Many journals maintain a preface in their print versions (usually available online) where they list those people who acted as a referee for the current issue.

Does this compromise the anonymity of the peer-review process? As an author you could get a good guess who reviewed your paper from such lists even though you cannot pin it down to a single individual.

Why are such lists maintained? Is there a reason not to bother about it?

  • Why on earth are people downvoting this question? The downvoting culture here never seizes to amaze me. – Sverre May 3 '17 at 15:01
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    @Sverre never "ceases" to amaze, as in "never stops amazing" - seize means "to take forcefully, suddenly" - note: I don't intend to be annoying or pedantic just truly want to help out with an English idiom in case you are an English language learner (which even applies to those of us that learned English first...) – Bryan Krause May 3 '17 at 16:50
  • @BryanKrause Whoops! I know better than to think it's the verb "seize" in this expression, but homophones have a tendency to get mixed up in writing anyway :) – Sverre May 4 '17 at 9:37
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Bear in mind that many papers are reviewed without being published, and that no one knows everyone who could potentially be a reviewer of their paper. So you may guess, but you really can't do so with certainty.

I think a bigger issue in this regard is the shepherding process done in some conferences, in which one person who served as a reviewer interacts directly with the authors to verify that concerns from the reviews are addressed. Now you know who a reviewer was, just not which review they wrote. Such conferences often have 5-7 reviews per accepted paper, but I've seen it done with as few as 3.

In either case, I think the possible unblinding of a reviewer is a minor concern. You really ought to be writing the public portion of reviews as though the authors know exactly who is reviewing (this came up in another question recently) and some reviewers choose to sign their reviews explicitly as a matter of principle.

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Why are such lists maintained?

To recognize and express gratitude to the reviewers, who contribute a substantial amount of their time to review papers, typically without pay or any other direct reward. It might also serve to help readers see that reviewers really are well-known experts in the field (assuming that they are).

Does this compromise the anonymity of the peer-review process?

Maybe a little bit. As you say, it makes it somewhat easier to guess who your reviewer might have been. But the reviewers still have plausible deniability - nobody except the editors has proof that any given reviewer worked on any given paper. In small subfields, it is often not too hard to guess who reviewed your paper anyway.

It's a judgment call by the editors to decide whether this risk outweighs the benefits. Some journals decide to do it one way, others the other way.

  • My CV has a list of conferences and journals for which I have been a reviewer. Such lists are the only way this information can be verified. – Thomas supports Monica May 3 '17 at 16:28
  • @Thomas, I assume that neither your CV nor the publisher says what you reviewed, only the publication/venue for which you reviewed. If a publication says you were a reviewer for X but you didn't say it on your CV, I'd assume it's your oversight, not theirs. – Fred Douglis May 3 '17 at 17:20
  • @Thomas: Well, normally there is no reason for anyone to need to verify this, and it's considered "honor system". Anyway there are still plenty of journals that don't publish these lists, so the public doesn't really expect to be able to verify. In case of a situation where it really does need to be verified, like an internal review at your institution, you can provide the review invitation you received from the editor, with the understanding that it will be kept confidential. – Nate Eldredge May 3 '17 at 17:40

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