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scientific organization that aims to create specific communities of researchers reviewing and recommending, for free, unpublished preprints in their field.

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Image Credits

The network image was drawn by Martin Grandjean: A force-based network visualization - CC BY-SA.

PCI Economic model

General principles

  • PCI is a non-profit and non-commercial organization run by scientists for scientists. All costs are kept as low as possible.
  • PCI works on a voluntary basis: reviewers, recommenders, and administrators of the PCIs and the co-founders of the PCI project receive no money for the work they perform (aside from their salary from their regular jobs).
  • The workload is shared as much as possible to reduce the burden on any one individual.
  • Article processing time is divided between evaluation and editorial management. Most of this time is spent on scientific evaluation. The time needed for editorial management is minimal.

Cost for the overall PCI project

Human costs

  • PCI project management and promotion: The management and the promotion of the overall PCI project currently requires the equivalent of a full-time job but should decrease to about half that after 2020. This work is done by scientists on a voluntary basis and/or as part of their normal academic activities.

Functioning costs = ~ €5,500/year

  • PCI pays an annual subscription (€270/year) to Crossref to (i) use Similarity Check, a service for checking for plagiarism, and (ii) assign DOIs to recommendation texts and editorial correspondence.
  • The cost of hosting and other web services for is €200/year.
  • Other costs for running and promoting the PCI project (travel to and accommodation at the annual general meeting, conferences, seminars, etc.) are currently about €5,000/year.

Cost for a given PCI (e.g. PCI Evol BiolPCI Ecology…)

Human costs

  • Article evaluation (peer-reviews, editorial decisions): As is the case at many journals, recommenders and reviewers at each PCI are not paid by PCI. They perform the evaluation and recommendation process (between 1 and 6 days/article when accounting for the time spent by the recommender and the reviewers) on a voluntary basis and/or as part of their normal academic activities. The article evaluation costs are lower than in traditional journals because there are no editors-in-chief (EiC) and because not all submitted articles are sent out for in depth peer review.
  • PCI administration (promotion, problem solving, functioning): Administrators of each PCI receive no salary or bonus from PCI and the time they spend administering and promoting the PCI (between 10 and 100 hrs/year) is done on a voluntary basis and/or as part of their normal academic activities.
  • Article editing (technical editing, proof reading, final formatting): There is no technical editing, proof reading or final formatting of the recommended articles, and thus no corresponding cost. The authors are free to format the final version of their article as they like. This cost is thus null compared to traditional journals.
  • Article management (checking scope and conflict of interests; defining and monitoring evaluation deadlines; sending reminders to authors, recommenders and reviewers; requesting DOIs; checking for plagiarism; formatting recommendations for online publication; etc.): The editorial management of a submitted preprint takes an average of 2 hrs/article. For each PCI, the organisation of the editorial management of a submitted preprint is up to the administrators. It can be shared among administrators, among members of the managing board, or among recommenders. It can also be performed by a specific person. In any case, the time spent is on a voluntary basis and/or as part of normal academic activities. The cost of editorial management of a PCI is lower than at most traditional journals because i) not all submitted articles are sent out for in-depth peer review and ii) only limited handling is necessary after scientific approval (e.g. no handling for technical editing).
  • PCI’s website and email account development and maintenance: PCI websites work on an in-house system, with no need to pay for commercial software. Setting up, running, and updating all PCI websites and email accounts is done by a web developer and a computer scientist. The time they spend (about 300 hrs/year until 2020 and 50 hrs/year thereafter) for PCI is done on a voluntary basis and/or as part of their normal academic activities. The in-house system chosen by PCI to avoid the subscription to commercial journal management software eliminates the need to spend several thousands of euros per year per PCI.

Functioning costs = ~ €5,300/year

  • The cost for web hosting and data backup is €300/PCI/year.
  • The other costs for running and promoting a PCI (travel to and accommodation at conferences, meetings, seminars, etc.) are about €5,000/year.

Costs supported by other institutions/companies

The cost of depositing a preprint in an open archive is estimated at less than €10 per manuscript (e.g. 123,523 preprints uploaded to in 2017 on a budget of $1,019,665). This cost is covered by the open archive platforms and their sponsors.

Sponsorship for the functioning costs

PCI is a non-profit organisation governed by the French law 1901. Established in 2016, PCI receives financial support from research organisations to cover its functioning costs.

Annual sponsorship (total across all PCIs):

2016: €8,000

2017: €24,959

2018: €7,500

2019: €46,164

List of sponsors

Universities: Sorbonne Université, Université de Montpellier, UCLouvain, Aix-Marseille Université, Université de Rennes 1, Université de Strasbourg;

Research Institutes: Inrae, Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle, INEE-Cnrs, Ifremer, AgroParisTech, KU Leuven, IRD, EPHE, Ifremer.

Laboratories: UMR CBGP, UMR ISA, Logan’s Lab at Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology

Scientific Societies: The European Society for the Study of Evolution (ESEB), Society for the Study of Evolution (SSE), Société Française d’Ecologie et d’Evolution (Sfe2), Society for Systematic Biology (SSB)