The project in a few lines

The first Peer Community in has been launched: Peer Community in Evolutionary Biology

More than 260 recommenders have already joined Peer Community in Evolutionary Biology.  Visit its website : www.evolbiol.peercommunityin.org

Aim

The “Peer Community in” project is a non-profit scientific organization aimed at creating specific communities of researchers reviewing and recommending papers in their field. These specific communities are entitled Peer Community in X, e.g. Peer Community in Evolutionary Biology, Peer Community in Microbiology.

Becoming a recommender

Becoming a recommender of a Peer Community in X would not be associated with a substantial workload. Each recommender would review and recommend 1 or 2 articles per year in average.

Motivation

The motivation behind this project is the establishment of a high-quality, free, public system for identifying high-quality papers by a specific recommendation that would be recognized within and subsequently beyond the community, including by funding and research agencies.

This project should lead to a new scientific publication system, in which papers are deposited in open and free archives, and if appropriate, reviewed and awarded a recommendation publicly guaranteeing their scientific quality. This recommendation could replace the current evaluation and editing process of scientific journals, which is very costly for research institutions.

Structure

The non-profit “Peer Community in” organization is responsible for the creation and the functioning of the various specific Peer Communities in X.

Each Peer Community in X will include an unlimited number of recommenders appointed by its Managing board. These recommenders would recommend and review papers either published in scientific journals or deposited on open online archive sites (e.g. bioRxiv). The Managing board of a Peer Community in X will be constituted by a limited number of persons randomly chosen among the recommenders of this Peer Community in X and they will be regularly replaced.

The Managing board members of each Peer Community in X will also be members of the non-profit “Peer Community in” organization. Hence, representatives of all existing Peer Communities in X would decide the creation of new Peer Community in X collectively.

The recommending process

The recommendations attributed, and the reviews/comments leading to their attribution, would be posted and freely readable on the website of the Peer community in X concerned and widely publicized through social networks. Each recommendation would provide a link to the internet location of the corresponding paper (either a DOI or the Internet address at which the paper was deposited).

See the Reasons to believe in this project

See How does it work?

See Why Peer Community in?

See Who supports Peer Community in?

See the Frequently asked questions

See the Recent modifications

 

8 thoughts on “The project in a few lines

  1. This is a very good initiative. I have a question about becoming a reviewer. The information provided on this website states that reviewers can be nominated by current members of Peer c.i. or propose themselves, but whatever the process they are to be approved unanimously by the managing board. To be a reviewer one should actively be doing scientific research and(or?) be known for one’s pertinent reviews. As much as I think that your idea is great, it sounds a bit like an exclusive club, just the sort of thing that we all hope we could move away from. Many of us just want to discuss science for the value of the ideas and as means to solve problems and we don’t (and perhaps shouldn’t) care who is speaking in the debate. The description of the Peer c.i. system also makes me wonder if there will be any monitoring of the reviews written by the reviewers before they are posted or if the reviewers have free reign once they get approval.
    I was wondering why you did not opt for a system where anyone could be a reviewer, and then before reviews were posted they were checked by the Reviewing Board for deployment of reasoned and founded arguements, for objectivity, for an obvious lack of vengence or trashing, and that they were overall scientific.

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    1. Many thanks for your comments. It is true that we did not retain the option of a fully open Community. We preferred a system in which members of the Peer Community in X are appointed by the Managing board and in which any researcher can be punctually solicited by members of the Community to review a MS. The main reason is that we want Peer community in recommendations to be based on reviews of high quality. Our goal is therefore not to be an exclusive club, but merely to ensure that each member of the Peer Community in X is recognized by the peers as good enough in his/her field of research to perform sound recommendations. This is important since nobody will check the quality of the reviews underlying those recommendations (see below).
      Another important reason is that we expect that members of Peer community in X will act as members of a community that matters for them. Because members will be nominated by the community, they will probably be particularly motivated to perform very good reviews and to follow a code of ethical conduct (no conflict of interest, no recommending of articles published by recent co-authors and/or friends, etc.)
      Note that having reviewers nominated by a journal editor is currently the rule in most journals. In that perspective, Peer community in will not be more exclusive than most journals. Actually, it will be even less exclusive since their will be no numerus clausus. In addition, the limited number of recommendations that a member of the community can write (1 or 2 per year, maximum 5) will give the way to a large diversity of scientific points of views and will reduce the risk that a few members are calling all the shots in the recommendations.
      Besides here are two key points that will guarantee that the community would remain open:
      – recommendations have to be conducted by at least two persons. Only one of these two persons will necessarily be member of the Peer Community in X. Hence, for each recommendation, one review might be written by a researcher who does not belong to the community.
      – even if members of the Peer Community in X are appointed by the Managing board, it is important to note that half the Managing board will be replaced each year. The composition of the Managing board will therefore change over time quite rapidly, further diminishing the risk of a drift toward an ‘exclusive club’.

      There will not be any “scientific” monitoring of the reviews written by the reviewers. However, the Managing board will perform a quality check on the format and the deontology of reviews and recommendations.
      The main reason why we did not opt for the system you describe (a system that is fine in principle) is to guarantee the lightest workload for everybody (Managing board, community). We feel that this is a key condition for the stability of the system. The initiative has to persist on a relatively long term in a context where most researchers cannot dedicate much energy to reviews/recommendations. If the initiative works, managing an uncontrolled influx of reviews could represent too large an amount of work and as such discourage members of the “monitoring board”. In addition, a certain proportion of the reviews would be rejected, leading to a waste of time and energy for the reviewers themselves.
      The second reason is that giving the Managing board the possibility to suppress/modify reviews and recommendations would largely increase the risk of an “exclusive club” effect.
      Importantly, reviews being published, there will be a possibility to leave comments on any recommended paper and on the reviews on which its recommendation is based. Commenting reviews will then be a powerful way to promote a diversity of views and perspectives.

      Denis Bourguet, Thomas Guillemaud and Benoit Facon

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