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Meta-Research: Journal policies and editors’ opinions on peer review

  1. Daniel G Hamilton  Is a corresponding author
  2. Hannah Fraser
  3. Rink Hoekstra
  4. Fiona Fidler
  1. Interdisciplinary Metaresearch Group, School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne, Australia
  2. Department of Educational Sciences, University of Groningen, Netherlands
  3. School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne, Australia
Feature Article
Cite this article as: eLife 2020;9:e62529 doi: 10.7554/eLife.62529
1 figure, 4 tables and 5 additional files


Figure 1 with 2 supplements
Participating editors’ in principle stances on the six topics raised in Survey B.

The figures presented are limited to statements that provided a clear view for or against the topic of interest. An interactive version of this figure reporting results by discipline can be viewed at (Supplementary file 1). Source data for the figure can be found at

Figure 1—figure supplement 1
Survey response rate by discipline.
Figure 1—figure supplement 2
Distribution of impact factors among invited and participating journals by discipline.


Table 1
Pre-review policies for all journals and by discipline.
All journalsEcologyPsychologyEconomicsMedicinePhysics
Plagiarism software usage (N=317)
 Never 724411110014
 Always 1544946514554243125641454
 If suspicion has been raised 8426242719233038410727
 At editor's discretion 5417141613151823513415
 I don't know 520034230000
 Other 13422343451300
Recommending reviewers (N=321)
 No 73230018214759410414
 Yes - Recommend for only 27811126723410414
 Yes - Recommend against only 1243356341200
 Yes - Recommend for and against 1976175835161232929721968
 Other 1241145452514
Outsourcing peer review (N=318)
 No 3159990100821007810038952796
 Yes 210000001214
 Other 100000001200
Table 2
Blinding policies for all journals and by discipline.
All journalsEcologyPsychologyEconomicsMedicinePhysics
Open identities 310000112500
Single-blind 17657687816203343338726100
Single-blind (hybrid) 12433810110000
Double-blind (hybrid) 411134000000
Double-blind 109361517516540523800
Triple-blind 310011230000
Table 3
Situations where an editor may edit a reviewer’s report.
Never acceptable to edit the reportAcceptable to edit without reviewer's permissionAcceptable to edit, but only with reviewer's permission
When a reviewer identifies themselves in a blinded peer review framework (N=276)9334109397427
When a reviewer has used inappropriate or offensive language (N=291)4415170587726
When the reviewer has made an inappropriate reference to an author's gender, age etc (N=290)4817163567927
When there are spelling and/or grammatical errors in the review (N=294)10435141484917
When the review has English language problems (N=292)9533124427325
When the reviewer has left in their comments to the editor (N-290)5017179626121
When the editor disagrees with the reviewer's recommendation (N=293)238812283311
Table 4
Journal policies on the sharing of research data, materials and code.
Research data (N=294)Research materials (N=264)Research code (N=255)
Encourages sharing but it is not required168571435413352
Must make available if requested411429113213
In-text statement required521834132911
Requires posting to a trusted repository3412166197
No policy652269266525
Not applicable103135114
I don't know414262
  1. Percentages do not add up to 100% due to multiple answers being possible

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