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Comment & Response
August 22/29, 2017

Bias Among Peer Reviewers

Author Affiliations
  • 1Editor in Chief, JAMA, Chicago, Illinois
  • 2Executive Editor, JAMA, Chicago, Illinois
JAMA. 2017;318(8):755-756. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.9201

In Reply Drs Adler and Stayer raise concerns about the “intellectual bias” of peer reviewers and suggest that blinding reviewers, such as to authors’ names and institutions, may reduce this subconscious bias.

The issue of blinded peer review has been discussed for decades. For example, a randomized clinical trial including 127 manuscripts and 252 peer reviewers found that blinding of authors’ identities and institutions was successful for 73% of reviewers.1 However, the quality of reviews was graded only slightly higher for blinded vs unblinded manuscripts (3.5 vs 3.1 on a 5-point scale, respectively), and there were no significant differences between blinded vs unblinded manuscripts based on the authors’ assessment of the degree to which the review was thorough, constructive, or fair, indirectly suggesting that lack of blinding was not related to perceived bias.

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