Blinding in peer review: the preferences of reviewers for nursing journals

Authors

  • Judith Gedney Baggs,

    1. Judith Gedney Baggs PhD RN FAAN
      Editor, Research in Nursing & Health Senior Associate Dean and Professor
      Oregon Health and Science University School of Nursing, Portland, Oregon, USA
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  • Marion E. Broome,

    1. Marion E. Broome PhD RN FAAN
      Editor, Nursing Outlook
      Dean
      School of Nursing,
      Indiana University-Purdue University,
      Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
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  • Molly C. Dougherty,

    1. Molly C. Dougherty PhD RN FAAN
      Editor, Nursing Research
      School of Nursing, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
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  • Margaret C. Freda,

    1. Margaret C. Freda EdD RN FAAN
      Editor, The American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing
      Professor of Clinical Obstetrics & Gynecology and Women's Health
      Albert Einstein College of Medicine,
      Montefiore Medical Center,
      New York, USA
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  • Margaret H. Kearney

    1. Margaret H. Kearney PhD RN FAAN
      Former Associate Editor, Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing
      University of Rochester, School of Nursing, Rochester, New York, USA
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J.G. Baggs: e-mail: baggsj@ohsu.edu

Abstract

Title. Blinding in peer review: the preferences of reviewers for nursing journals.

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study to assess the beliefs and preferences of reviewers for nursing journals about blinding of authors to reviewers, reviewers to authors, neither or both.

Background.  Blinding of author and reviewer names in the manuscript review process has been of interest to nursing editors, but reports that are based on data rather than simply opinion concern the editorial practices of biomedical rather than nursing journals. There has been no study of nursing journal reviewer beliefs and preferences related to blinding.

Method.  A descriptive web-based survey was conducted. The sample included 1675 anonymous reviewers, recruited through 52 editors of nursing journals from their review panels. Data were collected in 2007.

Findings.  Double-blinding of reviews was the most common method reported. Ninety per cent of respondents reported that the papers they received to review did not include author names. When author names were blinded, 62% of reviewers could not identify the authors of papers; another 17% could identify authors ≤10% of the time. Double-blinding was the method preferred by 93·6% of reviewers, although some identified some advantages to an unblinded open review process.

Conclusion.  Nursing journal reviewers are generally very satisfied with double-blinding and believe it contributes to the quality of papers published. Editors or editorial boards interested in a more open review process could consider alternatives such as offering authors and reviewers the option to unblind themselves. Simply announcing that the review process will henceforth be unblinded would probably lead to loss of reviewers.

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