A few weeks ago I discussed some puzzles regarding anonymized peer-review, once again raising the question of whether academic philosophy might be better off adopting the peer-review practices in physics and mathematics. In physics and mathematics, it is common practice to everyone uploading non-anomymized papers to a public ArXiv prior to journal submission. Once papers are made public, they are then publicly discussed/vetted by other members of the profession. While this model "compromises" anonymized review [as everyone knows who wrote a given paper before it is submitted to a journal], the model has many virtues that I believe may outweigh traditional anonymized review. First, the public model lends itself to much faster dissemination of new information/new findings, as no one has to "withhold" new research from public presentation for months or even years for the sake of anonymized review. Second, the public model also arguably counteracts bias and chance better than traditional anonymized review--for whereas traditional anonymized review places publication decisions in the hands of the very few [and a paper can bounce around until one gets luck with the "right" reviewers], the public vetting process in math and physics enables large numbers of people to make public arguments as to a given paper's merits and/or deficiencies. As a follower of contemporary physics, my impression is that this works incredibly well: when a new paper is posted to the ArXiv, people publicly debate its merits, and it typically becomes very clear publicly whether the paper is good, bad, groundbreaking, etc.
Today, though, I want to reflect a bit more on a couple of concerns about traditional anonymized review that I only briefly alluded to in my earlier post: the issue of information dissemination. In particular, I want to suggest that traditional anonymized review in philosophy might have pernicious effects on public debate, incentivizing authors to hide arguments from public view during critical periods of intense public debate.