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anonymous this time

Very much in the place my judgment into the referee report category. That's pretty much the most important thing I can say to an author.

Peter Furlong

I always put my recommendation into the report for the author, and I appreciate it when others do the same for me. I do see the worry for editors, but I wonder how bad this is. I have had a paper rejected from a top five journal (it would have been my best placed article) even though both referees recommended R&R. The editor explained why that decision was reached, and although disappointed, it didn't even occur to me to argue (and even on reflection I think my response was the best one). In any case, knowing that two referees thought the paper was worth pursuing even at such a high venue was important information to me, and I am very glad this info was passed along.

Douglas W. Portmore

I think that the referee's primary responsibility is to provide advice to the editor regarding whether the paper should be accepted, rejected, or given an R&R verdict as well as to explain to the editor why they are making this recommendation. They can do this either in their comments for the editor only or in their comments to the author, depending on what they think is best. Secondarily, if requested in the journal's original invitation to referee, the referee should provide constructive feedback for the author. But I don't believe that the referee has any duty to tell the author what they're recommending to the editor. Nor do I think that there's a duty of transparency to not say anything privately to the editor. Nor do I think that the referee has a duty to provide any comments for the author if the journal just asked for a recommendation and a brief explanation for the editor's eyes only. So, I think that it's neither best practice for the referee to always include their recommendation in the comments to the author or best practice for the referee to always exclude their recommendation in the comments to the author. In some situations, a referee will be uncertain about what to recommend or will have low confidence in their recommendation and so may want to explain this in their comments for the editor's eyes only and focus their comments to the author on just some constructive feedback without any indication of what their recommendation is. In other cases, it may be helpful to explain to the author what their recommendation is.

Chivers Butler

To be clear, I would welcome verdicts in referee reports (and would not argue with editors if their verdict did not match that of the referees). My worry is just that the number of people who *would* argue with editors would be sufficiently high that the net effect would be an increase in editor workload and grief. My understanding is that they already deal with a fair number of disgruntled authors.

black and white

I think a clear verdict is an essential part of a referee report. I think the clear verdict also forces the referee to justify their remarks and assessment of the paper under review.
I am against comments directed privately to the editor. I write my review for the editor, but everything I say is also written for the author of the paper. This ensures that I am not an @ss with respect to my comments.


I always include my verdict. And I always appreciate knowing the referees' verdicts, since it gives me a sense of how close I came.


At Ergo the author can always see the referee's recommendation (whether or not the referee included it in their report), and they seem to be doing just fine. I really don't see why more journals shouldn't do this.

former chair

My view is much like Portmore's. Seems right to me.

Fwiw, I've encountered some journals that ask reviewers not include a decision in the author comments.

On what may lead editors to reject a paper with positive reviews -- an editor once told me that they received a lot of papers on X, so unless my paper was just gangbusters, they would reject it.

Sam Duncan

I honestly just cannot see how more transparency could be a bad thing. If it is a bad thing for an editor that's probably a decent sign that the editor is either doing something that's not above board or at least needs to explain himself and his reasoning a bit more. Why would it be bad if authors challenged editors when there's good reason? It might be annoying for editors but I don't see that as a terribly convincing argument against it. The fact that editors often have a lot of power, that it's unclear just how much, and varies from journal to journal is one reason (among many) that many of us distrust the peer review system and suspect that it's rigged in favor of the well-connected and well-known and against everyone else. Personally, I really think that editors ought to be limited in their options in light of referee reports and that journals ought to have clear standards about what editors can do in light of referee comments and what they can't. But at the very least if an editor is going to overrule the referees he should have to own that decision.

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