I’m a bit off the grid for the next several days, but wanted quickly to draw your attention to an article by Jeffrey Di Leo published a couple of days ago at Inside Higher Ed, entitled “Against Anonymity”. The article makes the general case that anonymity should be used only sparingly in academic life, and that while we claim that it allows for greater honesty and fairness in assessments, it instead hinders such assessment in some cases by enabling cowardice preventing free and open dialogue. This is an argument I’ve been making about peer review — that whatever benefits anonymity might provide, it does far more harm than good in preventing open exchange. As Di Leo suggests,
Anonymity in manuscript review allows reviewers to disengage from dialogue. It of necessity keeps the author of the manuscript outside of the dialogic process.
I recognize that any transition to open review processes will be bumpy, but I increasingly believe that we as scholars have to be willing to take responsibility for the assessments we make of others’ work, to make those assessments in the open where we are held accountable for them, and to make those assessments part of a process of constructive conversation.