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Fear of retribution a deterrent to open review

Junior researchers are being put off from participating in open peer-review processes because they fear that publicly criticising more senior academics could damage their career prospects.

Speaking at a discussion on open peer review at the Francis Crick Institute in London on 14 September, Meghan Larin, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Crick, said that it can provide a good opportunity for junior researchers to build their reputation.

She added, however, that many are worried about retribution for negative comments if they have not reached a tenured position. “A lot of postdocs, early-career researchers or junior faculty would be very concerned about having their name attached to a potentially negative review for a larger lab or for somebody that could impact their funding situation or collaborations,” she said. “I think that’s seen as a problem, but a lot of us are nervous to speak up about what we feel about the process.”

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