PCI Recommender Guide

 

PCI Recommenders manage the evaluation of articles in the same way as associate editors do at journals, with a few differences (see below).  

PCI only accepts and recommends preprints of high scientific quality that are methodologically and ethically sound. 

Main differences with journals 

  • You handle a manuscript evaluation only if you’re willing to: don’t feel obligated to take charge of an evaluation. You have to be positively motivated to do so because you are interested in the preprint (because of its background, the scientific question addressed, the methodology, the results, or the discussion).
  • There is no Editor in Chief, so you’re the only person responsible for the editorial decisions. If you have co-recommenders, you share this responsibility with them.
  • The evaluation process (including reviews, your decisions, and author responses) is published by PCI only if you decide, at the end of the evaluation process, to accept the preprint.
  • You will write a recommendation text in case of acceptance. This text describes the qualities of the preprint, including the subjective reasons for your interest in it. 
  • There is no acceptance rate to be reached. A scientifically sound article should be accepted. A scientifically unsound one should not.
  • There is no quality notation among PCIs. No stars, no impact factors. You only have to be interested in the article to handle its evaluation, and then sound articles are accepted, and unsound ones are not.
  • Financial conflict of interests are forbidden (see https://peercommunityin.org/code-of-conduct/). 

General advice 

  • Follow the PCI Code of conduct (https://peercommunityin.org/code-of-conduct/)
  • Be kind, respectful and constructive in your decisions
  • Be open to new approaches
  • When inviting referees for a preprint, keep in mind that gender balance and geographic origin diversity are desirable 
  • Try to keep to the deadlines at each steps in the process, it shows respect towards the authors

What you should NOT DO 

  • Do not agree to handle the evaluation of a preprint if you have not taken the time to read it, if you are not familiar with the subject, if you have no time to handle it in a timely manner, or if you’re not interested in the article.
  • You should not be in conflict of interest with the authors or with the content of the article (cf https://peercommunityin.org/code-of-conduct/). If you are, you must decline the invitation. 
  • You should not invite reviewers who are in conflict of interest with the authors or with the content of the article (cf https://peercommunityin.org/code-of-conduct/)
  • No need to examine whether the article falls within the scope of the PCI. Once a submission has been validated by the managing board, it is considered suitable for the PCI.
  • Do not discredit negative results.
  • Avoid unconstructive, ambiguous, and unsupported comments.
  • No need to check the format of the references.
  • No need to check for plagiarism – this is checked by the managing board 

What you should DO 

  • Quickly reply to the invitation of being recommender of the article, on the website, by accepting or declining. 
  • Agree to handle the evaluation of an article only if you have read it and find it interesting (because of its content, the scientific question addressed, the methodology, the results, or the discussion), if you are familiar with the subject, and if you can handle its evaluation in a timely manner.
  • Invite reviewers as soon as you agree to handle the manuscript. Send invitations to 5-10 potential reviewers within 48 hours, and then send reminders and/or new invitations until you find at least two reviewers willing to review the preprint. This process of finding reviewers should ideally take no more than a week.
  • Try to personalize your invitation letters as much as possible in order to maximize responsivity of invited reviewers
  • Send reminders to reviewers who have agreed to evaluate the article until you get at least two good quality reviews (see the PCI reviewer guide). 
  • You are responsible for editorial decisions based on the reviews made by the referees. Referees do not make decisions; this is your duty.
  • Post your editorial decision or write your recommendation text within 10 days after receiving the reviews or the revised version of the preprint.
  • Your editorial decision should synthesize the most relevant comments of the reviews as well as your own points of criticism. 
  • State whether you disagree with some points raised by the reviewers.
  • Feel free to reject an article at any step of the evaluation process (even after let’s say the third round of review) if there are scientifically sound reasons justifying this rejection.
  • Pay attention to typographical and other errors. A recommended article must be as close to perfect as possible in terms of its form because it is a completed final article. If the language is poor, mention it to the authors and suggest that they check for typos and/or bring their article to a full professional proficiency in English.
  • Check that data, scripts, simulation code, software parameters, etc. are available to the reader (e.g. repository link/DOI or appendix ).
  • If you accept the article, you must write a recommendation text. This text is a short article, similar to a News & Views piece. It has its own title, contains between 300 and 1500 words, describes the context, explains why the article is particularly interesting, and it is citable. The limitations of the preprint can also be discussed. This text also contains references (at a minimum the reference to the article being recommended).
  • Inform the managing board if you are delayed or if you are unexpectedly unable to carry out your recommender duties. 
  • Inform the managing board if you suspect scientific misconduct.

 

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