In a promising experiment, Nature reports that it is beginning a trial in which it will evaluate submitted papers through two tracks, one using its current, traditional closed peer review system and another using open peer review. As the blog O’Reilly Radar notes, this is a highly encouraging and significant trial, and one with Nature’s aggressive and creative exploration of how the Internet can enhance and improve scientific publishing. The O’Reilly article, well worth reading (and short), reports Nature’s open peer review will allow anyone in a paper’s field to comment on a submitted paper, which will be accessible via the web. Nature will compare the results of the two evaluation means once the trial period is over.
This could, of course, end up being a forgotten experiment. But it’s encouraging to see one of the two leading journals try open peer-review in such a high-profile, realistic, and meaningful way. The experiment should be well worth watching.