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In Medical teacher

Objectives: Peer review is a powerful tool that steers the education and practice of medical researchers but may allow biased critique by anonymous reviewers. We explored factors unrelated to research quality that may influence peer review reports, and assessed the possibility that sub-types of reviewers exist. Our findings could potentially improve the peer review process.Methods: We evaluated the harshness, constructiveness and positiveness in 596 reviews from journals with open peer review, plus 46 reviews from colleagues' anonymously reviewed manuscripts. We considered possible influencing factors, such as number of authors and seasonal trends, on the content of the review. Finally, using machine-learning we identified latent types of reviewer with differing characteristics.Results: Reviews provided during a northern-hemisphere winter were significantly harsher, suggesting a seasonal effect on language. Reviews for articles in journals with an open peer review policy were significantly less harsh than those with an anonymous review process. Further, we identified three types of reviewers: nurturing, begrudged, and blasé.Conclusion: Nurturing reviews were in a minority and our findings suggest that more widespread open peer reviewing could improve the educational value of peer review, increase the constructive criticism that encourages researchers, and reduce pride and prejudice in editorial processes.

Le Sueur Helen, Dagliati Arianna, Buchan Iain, Whetton Anthony D, Martin Glen P, Dornan Tim, Geifman Nophar


Peer review, bias, feedback, machine learning, sentiment, subgroup discovery