I ran across this very interesting article about some peer-review processes used within the CRA and Statistics Canada: Peer Review: From academia to organizations. I particularly appreciated the author’s comments about the benefits to reviewers of being able to provide feedback anonymously. I find that in an open forum, whether in academia or government, our first instinct as authors is to defend our claims without changing the structure of our arguments. Would we experience this criticism differently if it was anonymous (and professional), even if our reviewers didn’t have the power to recommend the publication of our work?
As an aside, publication matters in government as well. Not so much because publication carries prestige but because it is a tangible example of an analyst’s productivity. In this context, the barrier to publication is not one round of anonymous reviewers but multiple rounds of review by senior management. I think that analysts might feel more confident in ‘sticking to their guns’ during a vertical approval process if their work had first undergone a formalized, horizontal review process. It is interesting to think about how disagreements about criticisms would be adjudicated if reviewers did not know one another’s identity, as would be the case during an academic peer-review process.