“PEER COMMUNITY IN” PROJECT
What is the “Peer Community in” project?
What would I have to do as a recommender of a Peer Community in X?
How many articles will be recommended by each recommender of a Peer Community in X?
What are the key features of this recommendation?
Why would scientists care about a Peer community in X recommendation?
What conditions are required to launch this project?
What place would the “Peer Community in” project occupy in the scientific landscape?
How does the “Peer Community in” project differ from closely related initiatives?
How can I start a new Peer Community in X?
Who is at the origin of the project?
“PEER COMMUNITY IN” STRUCTURE
What is the desirable/expected size of a Peer Community in X?
What is the Managing board?
Who is in the Managing board?
What are the duties of the Managing board?
How would researchers become new recommenders of a Peer Community in X?
Are recommenders, including members of a Managing board, paid for their involvement in a Peer Community in X?
Can recommenders of a Peer Community in X be excluded if they do not do their job correctly?
Will the Peer Community in X data be archived?
SELECTION OF ARTICLES
What formats of papers can be recommended?
Which papers could be recommended?
Will all papers be recommended?
How can I propose a preprint for recommendation by a Peer Community in X?
Will some papers be left unread?
What if an author wants to submit his/her preprint to a journal and a recommender of Peer Community in X wants to recommend it at the same time?
Is it possible to recommend old articles, and how old?
TRANSPARENCY AND ETHICS
How would it be possible to guarantee freedom from bias, cronyism, retaliation or flattery?
What part of the recommending process would be made public?
Will negative comments/reviews be publicly available?
Can non-recommenders of a Peer Community in X ask recommenders to recommend articles?
FATE AND CITATIONS OF RECOMMENDED ARTICLES
Will the recommended papers be edited by the Peer communities in X?
Could the recommended articles be indexed?
Would scientific journals accept manuscripts with a Peer community in X recommendation that have not been published in traditional peer-review journals as valid citable references?
Would scientific journals accept submission of manuscripts deposited in open archives?
What happens if a recommended preprint is subsequently published in a scientific journal?
COMMENTING ON ARTICLE RECOMMENDATIONS
Can I comment on recommendations and on the corresponding articles?
Can I reply to a comment on recommendations?
What if I disagree with a recommendation?
“PEER COMMUNITY IN” PROJECT
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.
Becoming a recommender of a Peer Community in X would not be associated with a substantial workload. Each recommender would recommend 1 or 2 articles per year in average.
Each recommender would recommend 1 or 2 articles per year in average. Each recommender could not recommend more than 5 articles per year to reduce the risk that a few recommenders are calling all the shots in the recommendations.
1- Free: no fees associated with the recommending process; no charge for access to the comments and recommendations. The website would be freely accessible (unlike F1000).
2- Transparent: comments (for papers published in traditional journals), reviews and accompanying texts (for papers deposited in open archives) justifying the recommendations are freely available for consultation. Comments and accompanying texts are signed by the recommenders proposing the recommendation of the text. Reviews may be signed if the reviewers agree to do so.
3- Flexible and simple: the Managing board does not intervene in the process (i.e. it does not act as an editorial committee), except to resolve problems between the authors and the recommenders who recommended the paper and to perform a quality check on the format and the deontology of reviews and recommendation.
4- Not exclusive: an article may be recommended by different Peer Communities in X (a feature of particular interest for papers relating to multidisciplinary studies) and may even be published in a classical journal.
Scientists will care because the recommendation will be attributed by a recognized group of colleagues, it is free of charge, and colleagues, employers and funding agencies will probably recognize it as a mark of quality.
1- Development of a general web site (i.e. a web site that could present the various Peer Communities in X) and several web sites for each Peer Community in X.
2- Establishment of Managing boards for at least one (hopefully several) Peer Community in X, persuading a first circle of researchers to become recommenders of those communities.
Several Peer Communities in X will probably coexist in various scientific fields (e.g. phytopathology, ecology, cancer research, etc.). The goal is not to set up a monopoly, and several alternative recommending systems may coexist with the “Peer Community in” project.
F1000Prime: Readers have to pay to read the F1000 recommendations. F1000Prime is a for-profit business and is not intended to replace the current system based on journal publications. F1000Prime recommending concerns only published articles. F1000Prime does not, to our knowledge, wish to recommend manuscripts deposited in open archives.
Winnover is “an open access online scholarly publishing platform that employs open post-publication peer review”. There is a fee ($25 per DOI) and it does not provide any recommendation. Winnover allows authors 1) to upload a manuscript onto their platform and then encourages researchers, colleagues, and other scientists to make critical comments on the manuscript over a given period of time and 2) to revise the manuscript on the basis of the comments received and to provide the new version with a DOI. It is therefore not a “recommendation” as such, but an open process of critical review without a given threshold determining whether an article may be considered scientifically “valid”.
The Peerage of Science initiative operates upstream from the publication system and provides support to existing scientific journals. It is not, therefore, intended to replace the current system. The goal is to submit a paper actively to obtain constructive criticism before submitting it (and the responses to the criticisms received) to a scientific journal. It is stated that “Authors may accept a live publishing offer from a subscription-only journal, or may choose to export the peer reviews to any journal of their choice.” and that “The revenues of Peerage of Science come from organizations wishing to purchase the peer review services for use in their decision-making, such as publishers, funding organization, and universities.” Again, this is a very different model from the “Peer Community in” project.
Episcience has the objective of favoring the emergence of “epijournals”, electronic open-access journals containing items deposited in open archives, such as arXiv, and not published elsewhere. Our project is not intended to create a magazine. It is instead a system of recognizing high-quality articles by awarding them a recommendation, and this recommending process is possible for both articles that have already been published and for manuscripts deposited in open archives.
Elife is a journal publishing original articles with publication fees. “On January 1, 2017, eLife will introduce a fee for publication. A fee of $2,500* will be collected for all published papers submitted on or after this date” (https://submit.elifesciences.org/html/elife_author_instructions.html#fees).
PeerJ. Authors have to pay to publish in PeerJ. Either they pay $1,095 to publish a paper or each author pay once $399 (or more) and then each author can publish 1 (or more) paper/year in the journal (in 2017, https://peerj.com/pricing/#apc-membership-pricing).
The non-profit “Peer Community in” organization is responsible for the creation and the functioning of the various specific Peer Communities in X. 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 each new Peer Community in X collectively. Hence, if you are interested to launch a new Peer Community in X, you should contact a Managing board member and explain him/her your project.
The “Peer Community in” project is an original idea of Denis Bourguet, Benoit Facon and Thomas Guillemaud, working at Inra institute in France.
“PEER COMMUNITY IN” STRUCTURE
We expect each Peer Community in X to gather several hundreds recommenders – i.e. there will be no numerus clausus. This size would be sufficient to recommend a large number of articles even if each recommender recommends as few as one or two articles per year.
The Managing board of a Peer Community in X is a group of 6 recommenders of this community. They will be mainly in charge of nominating new recommenders of Peer Community in X. The Managing board also deals with problems arising between authors and recommenders who evaluated and/or recommended articles and preprints. It detects and deals with dysfunctions of Peer Community in X, and may exclude recommenders, if necessary. It also performs a quality check on the format and the deontology of reviews and recommendations published by Peer Community in X. Finally, recommenders of the Managing board of Peer Community in X will be part of the non-profit organization “Peer Community in”. This non-profit organization is responsible for the creation and the functioning of the various specific Peer Communities in X.
The Managing board of a Peer Community in X would include 6 persons randomly chosen among the recommenders of this community. Chosen recommenders would be allowed to decline. In such case, another person is chosen at random and so on until 6 recommenders are nominated. Half the Managing board is replaced each year. In addition, the founders of the corresponding Peer Community in X are temporarily members of the Managing board during the first 2 years. After two years of existence, the Managing board will only include 6 members.
The Managing board of a Peer Community in X is mainly in charge of nominating new recommenders of Peer Community in X. It also deals with problems arising between authors and recommenders who evaluated and/or recommended articles and preprints. The Managing board detects and deals with dysfunctions of Peer Community in X, and may exclude recommenders of this community, if necessary. It also performs a quality check on the format and the deontology of reviews and recommendations published by Peer Community in X. Finally, members of the Managing board of Peer Community in X will be part of the non-profit organization “Peer Community in”. This non-profit organization is responsible for the creation and the functioning of the various specific Peer Communities in X.
The recommenders of a Peer Community in X can propose new recommenders. The Managing board would be responsible for deciding whether these suggested recommenders should be accepted.
No, they are not.
Yes, the Managing board can exclude recommenders if their recommendations are of insufficient quality or if they do not respect the code of ethical conduct of the organization “Peer community in”.
Yes. Each Peer Community in X will regularly back up its data in several mirror web sites. Recommendations and peer-reviews will be deposited in open archives.
SELECTION OF ARTICLES
Recommended papers may have diverse formats: reviews, comments, opinion papers, research articles, data papers, technical notes, computer notes, movies, etc. No editing, formatting or proofing of the recommended papers is required.
All types of papers, whether already published in peer-reviewed scientific journals or deposited in open online archives. However, the recommenders of the various Peer Communities in X would be encouraged to review papers in the following descending order of priority: 1) articles deposited in open online archives (hence freely accessible) and not yet published in scientific journals (to encourage the expansion of the recommendation process), 2) articles already published in scientific journals but published in open access (and preferably free of charge for authors) and 3) articles published in scientific journals but not in open access.
Any paper can be recommended, provided that a recommender of a Peer Community in X is willing to review and recommend it. However, not all papers will be recommended because not all articles will achieve the required quality.
Authors will be able to use an alert system to inform a Peer Community in X that they would like their preprint to be considered for recommendation (a dedicated webpage will serve this purpose). This will require that this preprint is not under consideration for publication in a traditional journal or for recommendation by another Peer Community in X. If a recommender of the solicited Peer Community in X is interested by evaluating the paper he/she will contact the authors to 1) ensure that the paper is still not under review elsewhere and if so 2) let them know that the paper, if they agree, will enter in the recommendation process.
Yes, probably. Authors will be able to use an alert system to inform a Peer Community in X that they would like their preprint to be considered for recommendation. But depending on the size of Peer Community in X and the number of preprints waiting for a recommendation, a fraction of those preprints may not be considered.
The processes of publication and recommendation are not exclusive. 1) It is possible to recommend a paper that has been published in a journal. 2) It is possible to recommend a preprint even if it is then published in a journal, with the possibility of transferring the recommendation to the published paper. However, to avoid a simultaneous review process – i.e. one performed by a Peer Community in X and one undertaken by a traditional scientific journal or another Peer Community in X – we require the authors soliciting a recommendation to wait the outcome of the recommendation process before either 1) soliciting another Peer Community in X or 2) submitting their preprint for publication in a traditional journal. This process might be beneficial for the authors. Waiting for the reviews and the recommendation from a Peer Community in X will increase the value of their 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. However – and this is one of the ultimate goal of the “Peer Community in” project – authors might be satisfied by having their preprint recommended by a Peer Community in X and hence do no longer feel the need to submit it in a traditional journal.
Yes, it is possible to recommend old articles. However, the “Peer Community in” is a new system that will probably focus principally on the promotion of new and unpublished articles.
ARTICLE RECOMMENDATION PROCESS
1- For papers already published in scientific journals: the recommendation, with a comment, would provide a link to the DOI of the published paper.
2- For papers deposited in open online archives: if the paper can be recommended as it stands, the recommendation and the associated reviews will provide a link to the web address of the paper (which may be a DOI, as in bioRxiv); if the paper deserves to be recommended, but that changes are necessary, the recommender of the community who drives the review process can ask the authors to modify the paper and to deposit a second (or a third…) version of the paper. If the new version satisfies the criticisms made, it could then be recommended. The various reviews and the recommendation will provide links to the different versions of the paper.
3- The recommendation could be indicated by metric tools, such as the Altmetric “research highlight platform” category (https://www.altmetric.com).
Yes, and this is one of the chief advantages of this recommending process. The recommendation process is not exclusive and papers of interest to several different Peer Communities in X could be recommended by all those communities. This aspect is of particular interest for papers dealing with multidisciplinary studies. There would be no a priori hierarchy of communities, although some would be highly generalist (e.g. Peer Community in Mathematics) whereas others would be more specialized (e.g. Peer Community in Entomology).
However, to avoid recommendations of various versions of a preprint, a preprint already recommended by a Peer Community in X could only be recommended by another Peer Community in X as it stands. In other words, once a Peer Community in X has recommended a preprint, this latter must be considered like a published article by all the other Peer Communities in X interested by recommending it.
Any recommender of a Peer Community in X could perform this task.
TRANSPARENCY AND ETHICS
Bias, cronyism, retaliation or flattery will be limited by i) the transparency of the reviews, which will be freely available and possibly signed, and ii) the transparency of comments and recommendations, which will be freely available and signed. In addition, the “Peer Community in” project will establish a code of ethical conduct (no conflict of interest, no recommending of articles published by recent co-authors and/or friends, etc.) to be followed by the recommenders of the different Peer Communities in X. The Managing board of a Peer Community in X would be free to enrich this code of ethical conduct. It also performs a quality check on the deontology of published reviews and recommendations.
All information leading to the recommendation of a paper will be made public: the name of the recommender who recommends the paper, his/her comments, the reviews and suggested corrections and the authors’ replies will be available on the corresponding Peer Community in X, and the consecutive versions of the article will be deposited in open archives. Only the name of the additional reviewers may be withheld.
No, only reviews and comments leading to the attribution of the recommendation (positive, but with criticisms and suggestions for improvement) will be published. All the comments, suggestions and corrections leading to the recommendation being awarded will be made public.
Yes, any authors, belonging or not to a Peer Community in X can alert a Peer Community in X to recommend their preprint.
FATE AND CITATIONS OF RECOMMENDED ARTICLES
No, no editing (formatting) of the papers will be carried out and papers will be recommended without modification of their format. Unpublished versions of recommended papers deposited in an open archive will not be edited.
Yes, recommended articles (preprints or published articles) will be indexed. Google Scholar and Research Gate index all sort of documents (articles, books, reports, etc.), including preprints deposited in repositories such as arXiv, bioRxiv, and Hal. These platforms therefore record preprint citations in the same way as they record citations of papers published in journals. An author’s profile in Google Scholar or Research Gate would therefore take into account recommended articles, whether those articles were preprint articles from repositories or articles published in journals. In addition, each Peer Community in X can have its own metrics (IF, h, altmetrics, etc.).
Most, if not all journals already accept the citation of articles not published in peer-review journals (e.g. book chapters and reports). Hence, since these articles would have been peer-reviewed, we see no reason why traditional journals would refuse to consider them valid.
There are two possibilities: 1) the recommendation may refer only to the preprint paper if the published paper has been modified and no longer meets the requirements for recommendation; 2) there may be a single recommendation to both articles (preprint and published paper) if there are few differences between them.
COMMENTING ON ARTICLE RECOMMENDATIONS
Yes, everyone, including authors and readers, can comment on recommendations. All comments will be welcome, provided that they deal with the science, are signed and are respectful to the authors, the recommenders who made the recommendations and the other commentators. Comments considered as abusive could be notified to the Managing board. Members of this board can decide to withdraw abusive comments.
Yes, everyone, including authors and readers, can comment on recommendations, comments, and the corresponding article. All comments will be welcome, provided they deal with the science, are signed and respectful to the authors, the recommenders who made the recommendations and the other commentators. Replies to a comment not respecting these rules could be notified to the Managing board. Members of this board can decide to withdraw those replies.
If a reader disagrees with a recommendation or with any comments on an article, he can write a comment. This comment will be published, provided that it is signed and is respectful to the authors, the recommenders who made the recommendations and the other commentators. Comments not respecting these rules could be notified to the Managing board. Members of this board can decide to withdraw those comments.
See the Project in a few lines
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Photography Credit: Ben Lee, Stockholm Library (CC-BY-NS-2.0)