The first Peer Community in has been launched in 2017: Peer Community in Evolutionary Biology. More than 300 recommenders have already joined PCI Evol Biol. Visit its website : evolbiol.peercommunityin.org
Coming later in 2018: PCI Computational Statistics
The “Peer Community in” (PCI) is a non-profit scientific organization that aims to create specific communities of researchers reviewing and recommending, for free, unpublished preprints in their field (i.e. unpublished articles deposited on open online archives like arXiv.org and bioRxiv.org). To a lesser extent, they may also recommend postprints (i.e. articles already published in journals).
These specific communities are entitled Peer Community in X, e.g. Peer Community in Evolutionary Biology (PCI Evol Biol), Peer Community in Ecology (PCI Ecol), Peer Community in Computational Statistics (PCI Comp Stat), and Peer Community in Paleontology (PCI Paleo).
Once recommended by one or several of these PCIs on the basis of rigorous peer reviews, preprints become valid references and may be considered to be articles of high value. Recommended preprints can be used by scientists and cited in the scientific literature. There is no need for these recommended preprints to be published in classic journals (although they can be, according to the authors’ preferences).
Key features of PCI recommendations
- Stimulating: each PCI recommends remarkable articles in its field.
- Free: There are no fees associated with the evaluation process, and no charge for publication and access to the comments and recommendations. The websites of the PCIs are freely accessible.
- Transparent: Reviews and recommendations (for preprints) and recommendations (for postprints) are freely available for consultation. Recommendations are signed by the recommenders (see the definition and role of recommenders below). Reviews may be signed if the reviewers agree to do so.
- Flexible and simple: The Managing Board does not intervene in the process (i.e. it does not act as an editorial committee), other than to resolve problems between authors and the recommenders evaluating their articles. It also performs a quality control check on the format and deontology of reviews and recommendation.
- Not exclusive: A preprint may be recommended by different PCIs (a feature of particular interest for articles relating to multidisciplinary studies) and may even subsequently be published in a traditional journal (although this is not the goal of the PCIs).
The recommenders for each PCI are highly competent researchers – appointed by a Managing Board – who evaluate preprints on the basis of rigorous peer reviews, a process that may lead to the recommendation of preprints that have not been published by or submitted to a journal. To a lesser extent, they may also recommend postprints.
The role of the recommenders is similar to that of a journal editor (finding reviewers, obtaining peer reviews, making editorial decisions based on these reviews), and they may reject or recommend the preprints they are handling after one or several rounds of reviews. If a recommender eventually decides to recommend a preprint, he/she writes a “recommendation” that has its own DOI and is published on the website of the corresponding PCI.
Becoming a recommender for a PCI is not associated with a substantial workload. Recommenders organize the peer-review process of preprints and may recommend them. Most handle no more than two articles per year.
The motivation behind the “Peer Community in” project is the establishment of a high-quality, free, public system for identifying high-quality preprints by a specific recommendation obtained after rigorous peer-review. The aim is for this system to be recognized both within, and, subsequently beyond the community, including by funding and research agencies.
This project should lead to a new scientific publication system, in which preprints are deposited in free, open archives, and, if appropriate, reviewed and awarded a recommendation publicly guaranteeing their scientific quality. This recommendation could replace the current evaluation and editing processes of scientific journals, which are often opaque and very costly for research institutions.
The non-profit “Peer Community in” organization is responsible for the creation and functioning of the various specific PCIs.
Each PCI includes an unlimited number of recommenders, appointed by its Managing Board. These recommenders evaluate preprints deposited on open online archive sites (e.g. arXiv.org bioRxiv.org), which they may decide to recommend, after rigorous peer review. To a lesser extent, they may also recommend articles that have already been published in scientific journals. The Managing Board of a PCI consists of a limited number of individuals selected from among the recommenders of this PCI, who are regularly replaced.
The members of the Managing Board of each PCI are also members of the non-profit “Peer Community in” organization. Hence, the representatives of all existing PCIs are collectively responsible for all decisions concerning the creation of new PCIs .
See the Project in a few lines
See the Recommended Preprints
See the FAQ
See the Code of ethical conduct
See the Movies and posters
Photography Credit: Ben Lee, Stockholm Library (CC-BY-NS-2.0)