Peer Community In

“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scientific organization that aims to create specific communities of researchers reviewing and recommending, for free, unpublished preprints in their field.

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Peer Community in

A free recommendation process of scientific
preprints based on peer-reviews

PCI IN A FEW LINES

OUR AIM

“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scientific organization that aims to create specific communities of researchers reviewing and recommending, for free, unpublished preprints in their field (i.e. unpublished articles deposited on open online archives like arXiv and bioRxiv1).

To a lesser extent, they may also recommend articles already published in journals. These specific communities are entitled Peer Community in X, e.g. – Peer Community in Evolutionary Biology (PCI Evol Biol) and Peer Community in Ecology (PCI Ecol).

 

See the list of all current PCIs

 

Once recommended by one or several of these PCIs on the basis of rigorous peer reviews, articles become valid references and may be considered to be articles of high value. Recommended articles can be used by scientists and cited in the scientific literature. There is no need for these recommended articles to be submitted for publication in classic journals (although they can be, according to the authors’ preferences).

OUR KEY FEATURES

Stimulating, Free, Transparent, sound and independent, Not exclusive

 

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 reviews, comments and recommendations. The websites of the PCIs are freely accessible.

 

Transparent: Reviews and recommendations (for unpublished articles) and recommendations (for published articles) are freely available for consultation.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.

 

Based on sound and independent evaluations: recommenders and reviewers must declare that they have no conflict of interest with the authors or the content of the article they evaluate and recommend. The Managing Board performs a quality control check on the format and deontology of reviews and recommendations.

 

Not exclusive: An article 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

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 articles that have not been published by or submitted to a journal.

 

To a lesser extent, they may also recommend published articles. 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 an article, 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.

OUR MOTIVATION

The motivation behind “Peer Community in” is the establishment of a high-quality, free, public system for identifying high-quality unpublished articles 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. PCI 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 paid scientific journals, which are often opaque and very costly for research institutions.

OUR STRUCTURE

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 bioRxiv1), 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 PCIwho 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 .

REASONS TO BELIEVE IN PCI

This process is free, transparent and in line with current trends in the practices for screening/evaluating science used by researchers (social networks, deposition of papers in open archives, such as bioRxiv1). It is likely to succeed for the following reasons:

Recommending could be a progressive, “invasive” process

 

1- The recommendation process could coexist with the current system of traditional scientific journals. Authors would be free to submit an article that has been reviewed and recommended by a Peer Community in X to a scientific journal. For instance, in ecology and evolution, the Editors-in-Chief of Ecology LettersEvolutionBMC Evol BiolOikosEvolutionary EcologyEvolutionary ApplicationsMolecular Ecology, Frontiers of Biogeography, Genetica, and Journal of Evolutionary Biology (see the full list here) have indicated they will consider submissions of recommended articles and they may use PCI reviews and recommendations for their own review processes.

 

2- Waiting for the comments and recommendation from a Peer Community in X can increase the value of an article. Indeed, if modifications to the preprint are required to obtain the recommendation, these modifications may substantially increase the quality of the article before its submission to a traditional journal, thus increasing the likelihood of acceptance. The use of the recommendation system could then increase gradually, right from the start of its existence.

3- With the attribution of increasing numbers of recommendations to papers published in journals and deposited in open archives, these recommendations might gradually become the standard for evaluation of the quality of papers. This standard would have the advantage of being more direct and transparent than the currently used loose proxies of paper quality (such as the impact factor of journals). This would, in turn, encourage authors to deposit more of their papers in open archives, to get them recommended.

 

4- Peer Community in recommendations might become sufficiently prestigious that the authors would be confident that unpublished articles deposited in open archives and then recommended by Peer Community in would be citable, cited and recognized. This situation would encourage them to deposit their preprints in such archives.

 

5- The free recommending of papers deposited in open archives could, therefore, become more and more common. PCI would not, therefore, require authors to gamble dangerously on a new hypothetical, fragile system..

 

 

Researchers could easily join PCI

 

1- Becoming a recommender of a Peer Community in X would not be associated with a substantial workload. Contrary to the current system, recommenders, unlike associate editors in traditional scientific journals, would have no commitment to review and recommend papers. Each recommender would rather be encouraged to review and recommend 1 or 2 articles per year in average. The constraints of this system are therefore self-imposed rather than external, which would favor participation in the Peer Community in X.

2- Each recommender of a Peer Community in X in has his/her own personal page for displaying and reporting their reviews, comments and recommendations. This makes it easier to recognize the reviewing work that each researcher has performed for the community (not unlike the Publon initiative based on traditional journals). This might make being a recommender of a Peer Community in X very attractive.

 

3- One key advantage of this approach is that PCI can be successful even if some of the recommenders of a Peer Community in X failed to provide any comments, reviews or recommendations. We expect that each recommender would review and recommend 1 or 2 articles per year in average. Hence, PCI will not be jeopardized if some recommenders are inactive.

 

 

PCI may receive strong institutional support

Strong institutional support (e.g. from USDA, NSF, ERC, Universities, Inra, CNRS, etc.) is a distinct possibility, because the current publishing system entails a considerable financial burden for these institutions.

 

Some Learning society (e.g. the Society for the Study of Evolution (SSE), the Sociedad Española de Biología Evolutiva (SESBE), Société Française d’Écologie et d’Évolution (Sfe2)), French institutes (e.g. Inra), research laboratories (e.g. UMR CBGP, UMR ISA) and institutions (Labex CeMEB, BASC, CEBA, TULIP, COTE, ECOFECT) already provided support to the initiative (see the list).

WE ARE SUPPORTED BY

Peer Community in is supported by

  • more 20 universities and major research institutes
  • more than 10 learned societies
  • more than 50 PCI friendly journals
  • more than 18 doctoral schools

See the full list here

INCLUSIVENESS AND EQUITY

Inclusiveness and equity

PCI is attentive to equity and inclusion at all steps of the process of scientific article evaluation. PCI focuses on bringing more people underrepresented in academia among authors submitting to PCI, and reviewers, recommenders and managing board members working for PCI. Underrepresentation is hereby linked to many factors including career stage, gender and geography.

Specific recommendations are made to reviewers, recommenders and managing board members to increase equity and inclusiveness in each of their tasks.

Tools to increase equity and inclusiveness:

  • Possibility to submit articles anonymously
  • Transparency in the evaluation of articles
  • Managing Board members take into account underrepresentation in academia when appointing new recommenders
  • Template messages to recommenders and reviewers include recommendations about equity and inclusiveness
  • Possibility to review anonymously

PCI has signed the Joint Statement of Principles of the Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion in Scholarly Communication (C4DISC)

HOW TO SUPPORT PCI?

You are a: 

  • Representative of a funding agency, evaluation committee or doctoral school, click here
  • Representative of a research institution or research library, click here
  • Representative of an open archive or repository, click here
  • Researcher, click here

 

If you or your organization would like to support PCI financially, click here

 

Symbolic sponsorship

 

Funding agencies, evaluation committees and doctoral schools

Funding agencies, evaluation committees and doctoral schools can support PCI by endorsing the following statement: “In all of its work, our organization considers articles recommended by a Peer Community In to be of the same value and to have the same status as articles published in a high-quality journal in the same discipline”.

 

→ If your organization would like to join the list of bodies already supporting PCI, endorse this statement, and allow PCI to display its logo on the PCI websites and other supports of communication, then a representative of your organization should complete the Endorsement Statement Questionnaire for Evaluation Bodies. You can also contact us directly: contact [ at ] peercommunityin.org

 

Research institutions (universities, university departments, institutes, scientific societies, research libraries, etc.)

Research institutions can express their interest in the development of Peer Community In by providing symbolic support to PCI meaning that they
1) publicly acknowledge the value of the PCI initiative and
2) allow PCI to display their logo on the PCI websites and other supports of communication.

 

→ If your organization would like to join the list of bodies already supporting PCI, and provide symbolic support for PCI (including the display of the organization’s logo on PCI communication support), then a representative of your organization should complete the Symbolic Sponsorship Questionnaire. You can also contact us directly: contact [ at ] peercommunityin.org

 

Researchers

Peer Community In was launched by scientists, to take back control of scientific publication, so that public money can be better spent on research.

As a researcher, you can support PCI:

 

Contact us contact [ at ] peercommunityin.org for further details. 

 

Open archives and repositories

The Peer Community In process relies on open archives, preprint servers and institutional repositories, and adds value to their content by providing reliable and transparent peer reviews and editorial decisions.

It is essential that these archives help readers to identify more easily the articles that have been peer-reviewed. 

As an open archive, preprint server or institutional repository operator, you can support Peer Community In by displaying the link to the recommendation on the webpage of each preprint recommended by a PCI

 

→ Contact us contact [ at ] peercommunityin.org for further details. 

 

Financial support

Peer Community In is a non-commercial not-for-profit organization financed exclusively by public funds. Your financial support will help us to cover the functioning costs of the existing communities and to develop the project.

Institutions, universities, libraries, laboratories or even individuals can provide financial support for Peer Community In according to a “pay what you can” annual fee model (our donors currently provide between €150 and €10,000). This support also includes allowing PCI to display the organization’s logo on the PCI websites and other supports of communication.

 

→ If you would like to join the list of bodies already supporting PCI, then a representative of your organization should complete the Financial Sponsorship Questionnaire. You can also contact us directly: contact [ at ] peercommunityin.org

How can you know whether or not a preprint has been recommended by a PCI?

Submit your preregistration to Peer Community In for peer review!

PCI economic model – General principles