In a previous study, we found that masking success was higher at a journal
that masked reviewers to author identity. We hypothesized that masking policy
or other factors could be associated with masking success.
To evaluate differences in success of masking reviewers to author identity
at 7 biomedical journals and to identify factors associated with these differences.
Reviewers at 3 journals with a long-standing policy of masking author
identity (Annals of Emergency Medicine, Epidemiology,
and Journal of the American Geriatrics Society) and
4 journals without a policy of masking author identity (Annals of Internal Medicine, JAMA , Obstetrics &
Gynecology , and Ophthalmology).
Main Outcome Measures.—
Masking success (percentage of reviewers successfully masked) and reviewer
characteristics associated with masking.
There was no significant difference in masking success between journals
with a policy of masking (60%) and those without (58%) (P=.92). We found no association between masking success and a policy
of masking when adjusted for the reviewer characteristics of age, sex, years
of reviewing experience, number of articles published, number of articles
reviewed, percentage of time spent in research, editorial experience, or academic
rank (odds ratio [OR], 1.3; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.64-2.8; P=.43). In multivariable analysis of reviewer characteristics,
reviewers spending a greater percentage of time in research, the only significant
predictor of masking success, were less likely to be successfully masked (OR,
1.01; 95% CI, 1.00-1.02) (P=.04).
Masking success appears unrelated to a journal policy of masking, but
is associated with reviewers' research experience and could be affected by
other characteristics. Using reviewers with less research and reviewing experience
might increase masking success, but the effect on review quality is unknown.