The Pros and Cons of Self Identifying on Journal Reviews

When serving as a reviewer of a journal article I usually do not reveal my identity, but some people in my field choose to self identify on a regular basis. I’ve been reconsidering my stance on this and thought I’d share my list of pros and cons.

Pros of self-identifying:

  • Encourages the reviewer be more civil and respectful
  • Helps the name recognition of the reviewer, which might be good for early career scientists
  • Opens the possibility for collaboration if the author wants to follow up on a reviewer’s suggestion that is outside the scope of the study

Cons of self-identifying:

  • Possibility for quid pro quo, such as the author offering to give the reviewer a favorable review later for receiving a favorable second round review on the current manuscript
  • Possibility for retaliation, such as rejection of the reviewer’s future proposals

This is all I could come up with so far, so let me know if there are any more that I missed. Even with this short list, I don’t think any of these scenarios are trivial. Personally, I think the pros outweigh the cons. Or maybe I should say that the con scenarios seem less likely, which suggests there shouldn’t be much concern about self identifying. On the other hand, sometimes rejections are necessary, and there’s no way to ensure that the author won’t take it personally.

So I think I will start self identifying as a reviewer, unless the paper is terrible and I can’t avoid a negative review.

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