Some journals ask reviewers not to reveal themselves. A review process in which the reviewers are anonymous, unless they choose not to be, makes sense. But why shouldn’t reviewers be free to reveal themselves if they wish?
Twice, I have received non-anonymous reviews. In both cases, receiving the non-anonymous review was a thrill. Both reviewers were researchers I highly respected, and their positive opinion of my work meant a lot to me. In one case, the reviewer asked the journal editors to forward a signed review. In the other case, the reviewer sent me e-mail directly with the review attached. That review, while positive, had many excellent suggestions for revisions. Receiving the review more than a month prior to receiving the packet of reviews from the journal enabled us to get a head start on revising the paper, which was the reviewer’s stated reason for sending it to us directly.
I do not know why some journals prohibit reviewers from revealing their identities. I can think of a number of reasons, but none that outweigh the possible benefits, such as community building, that allowing reviewers to choose to review non-anonymously supports. Thoughts anyone?
On a related note, who owns the copyright to a review? This question came up recently when, according to the authors of a paper, the arXiv refused to allow uploading of a paper because it contained reviews for which the authors did not have the copyright. Is it true that a reviewer has sole ownership of the review, or does the receiver of the review also have the right to publish it? If not, how much of a review can an author post on a site like My Review Sucks? Also, if the copyright is retained exclusively by the reviewer, that creates many orphaned works, since the anonymity of most reviews means it is difficult to find the copyright owner to obtain permission to publish.