PEER COMMUNITY IN (PCI)
Who came up with PCI?
Could articles be recommended by several different Peer Communities in X?
Yes, and this is one of the chief advantages of PCI. The recommendation process is not exclusive and articles of interest to several different Peer Communities in X could be recommended by all those communities. This aspect is of particular interest for articles dealing with multidisciplinary studies. There would be no a priori hierarchy of communities, although some would be highly generalist (e.g. PCI Ecology) whereas others would be more specialized (e.g. PCI Forest and Wood Science). However, to avoid recommendations of various versions of an article, an article 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 an article, this latter must be considered reviewed (i.e. like a published article) by all the other Peer Communities in X interested by recommending it.
How can I start a new Peer Community in X?
The non-profit PCI organization is responsible for the creation and functioning of the various specific Peer Communities in X. The members of the Managing Boards of each Peer Community in X will also be members of the non-profit PCI organization. Hence, representatives of all existing Peer Communities in X would collectively take decisions concerning the creation of each new Peer Community in X. If you would like to launch a new Peer Community in X, you should contact a Managing Board member and explain your project. See the dedicated post.
How does PCI differ from closely related initiatives?
What place will PCI occupy in the scientific landscape?
Several Peer Communities in X will exist 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 PCI. Articles recommended by PCIs would not necessarily require subsequent publication in classic journals, because they are high-quality complete articles that are reliable and citable in their own right. In time, we expect PCIs to become the major medium for the publication of scientific output.
What are the key features of recommendations?
Stimulating: Peer Community in X recommends remarkable articles.
Free: there are no fees associated with the evaluation process, and no charge for access to the comments and recommendations. The website is freely accessible.
Transparent: Reviews and recommendations (for articles not published in journals) and recommendations (for articles published in journals) are freely available for consultation. Recommendations are signed by the recommenders. Reviewers may choose to remain anonymous or to sign their reviews.
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 Peer Communities in X (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).
What is a recommendation?
A “recommendation” is a short article written by one or several recommenders, describing why an article is particularly interesting. It has a DOI and is published in the electronic journal of the PCI. The recommendation is a short article, similar to a News & Views piece. It has its own title, contains between about 300 and 1500 words, describes the context, explains why the article is particularly interesting and contains references (at least one, to the article recommended). The limitations of the article may also be discussed. See an example here.
What is the role of the recommender?
Recommenders evaluate, and may choose to recommend articles that have not been published by or submitted to a journal. Recommender is a role similar to that of a journal editor (finding reviewers, collecting reviews, making editorial decisions based on reviews), with the possibility of recommending the article after one or several rounds of review. When recommenders decide to recommend an article, they write a “recommendation”, which has its own DOI and is published in the electronic journal of the PCI in X. The recommendation is a short article, similar to a News & Views piece. It has its own title, contains between about 300 and 1500 words, describes the context and explains why the article is particularly interesting. The limitations of the article may also be discussed. This text also contains references (citing at least the recommended article).
What is the goal of the various PCIs?
The aim of PCI is to offer scientists a free, stimulating, transparent and non-exclusive way to validate and promote their scientific output, by removing this monopoly from journals.
PCIs publicly highlight and recommend high-quality articles. The articles recommended by PCIs are complete articles of high value, that are reliable and citable without the need for publication in traditional journals.
What is PCI?
PCI is a non-profit scientific organization that aims to create specific communities of researchers reviewing and recommending unpublished articles. These specific communities are entitled Peer Community in X, e.g. Peer Community in Evolutionary Biology.
The goal of the PCIs is to highlight and recommend articles as of particular interest to the community concerned. The articles recommended by PCIs are complete articles of high value that do not necessarily need to be published in traditional journals.
FUNCTIONING OF PEER COMMUNITY IN X (PCI X)
What do I have to do as a recommender for PCI X?
Each recommender is expected to manage the evaluation process for one or two articles per year, on average. Thus, becoming a recommender for PCI X is not associated with a substantial workload. Recommenders evaluate and may recommend articles that have not been published by or submitted to a journal. Evaluating a preprint means playing a role similar to that of a journal editor (finding reviewers, collecting reviews, making editorial decisions based on reviews) and, possibly, recommending the article after several rounds of review. Recommenders deciding to recommend a particular article write a “recommendation” for that article, which has its own DOI and is published in the electronic journal of the PCI in X. The recommendation is a short article, similar to a News & Views piece. It has its own title, contains between about 300 and 1500 words, describes the context and explains why the article is particularly interesting. The limitations of the article can also be discussed. This text also contains references (referring at least to the article recommended). Recommending a published article is more straightforward: the recommender chooses an article that they wish to recommend and invites a second recommender from PCI in X to write a joint recommendation text.
How can I become a recommender for PCI X?
New recommenders are nominated by current recommenders and approved by the Managing Board. If you are interested in becoming a recommender, please contact a current recommender in your field.
How many articles are recommended by each PCI X recommender?
Each recommender manages the evaluation process for one or two articles per year, on average. No recommender is allowed to handle more than five articles per year, to minimize the risk of a few recommenders dominating the recommendations made.
Why would scientists care about a PCI X recommendation?
Scientists will care because the recommendations are attributed by a recognized group of colleagues, free of charge, and colleagues, employers and funding agencies will almost certainly recognize this recommendation as a mark of quality.
PCI X STRUCTURE
How big do you hope/expect PCI X to be?
We expect PCI X to bring together several hundred recommenders, but there will be no restriction on numbers. This size would be sufficient to recommend a large number of articles, even if each recommender recommends only one or two articles per year.
What does the Managing Board do?
The Managing Board of PCI X is a group of recommenders from this community. Its principal function is approving the nomination of new recommenders for PCI X. The Managing Board also deals with problems arising between authors and the recommenders responsible for evaluating and/or recommending articles. It detects and deals with dysfunctions of PCI X, and may exclude recommenders, if necessary. It also performs quality control checks on the format and deontology of the reviews and recommendations published by PCI X. Finally, members of the Managing Board of PCI X are part of the non-profit organization PCI. This non-profit organization is responsible for the creation and functioning of the various specific Peer Communities in X.
Who are the members of the Managing Board?
The Managing Board of PCI X has between about 5 and 15 members chosen among the recommenders. The modality of choice depends on the community.
What are the duties of the Managing board?
The Managing Board of PCI X is mostly responsible for nominating new recommenders for PCI X. It also deals with problems arising between authors and the recommenders responsible for evaluating and/or recommending articles. The Managing Board detects and deals with dysfunctions of PCI X, and may exclude recommenders from this community, if necessary. It also performs quality control checks on the format and deontology of the reviews and recommendations published by PCI X. Finally, members of the Managing Board of PCI X belong to the non-profit organization PCI. This non-profit organization is responsible for the creation and functioning of the various specific PCI X.
On what economic model is PCI X based?
Are recommenders, including members of the Managing Board, paid for their involvement in PCI X?
No, they are not.
Can recommenders of a PCI be excluded if they do not do their job correctly?
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 PCI X.
Are PCI X data archived?
SELECTION OF ARTICLES
What format must an article be in to be recommended?
Recommended articles may have diverse formats: reviews, comments, opinion articles, research articles, data articles, technical notes, computer notes, movies, etc. No editing, formatting or proof-reading of the recommended articles is required. We only ask the authors of recommended articles to add a sentence in the acknowledgements stating that their article has been peer-reviewed and recommended by PCI X. We also suggest to authors to format their article with one of the templates we provide them.
Which articles could be recommended?
The goal of PCI X is to recommend articles deposited in open online archives and not (yet) published in scientific journals.
Are all submitted preprints recommended?
Any preprint can be recommended, provided a PCI X recommender is willing to manage its evaluation and to recommend it. However, not all submitted preprints are recommended, because not all preprints achieve the required quality.
How can I submit my preprint to PCI X?
Authors are invited to submit their preprints to PCI X via a dedicated tool on the PCI X website. For submission, the preprint must not have been published or be under consideration for publication in a traditional journal. If a PCI X recommender is interested by evaluating the preprint they initiate the evaluation process.
Will some preprints be left unevaluated?
Yes, probably. Authors are invited to submit their preprint to PCI X. But depending on the size of PCI X, the number of preprints awaiting evaluation, and their quality, a fraction of those preprints may not be considered.
What if an author wants to submit his/her preprint to a journal and to PCI X?
The processes of publication and recommendation are not exclusive: a preprint evaluated by PCI X can subsequently be submitted to a journal. However, concurrent submission to a journal and to PCI X – i.e. submission to PCI X at the same time as submission to a traditional scientific journal – is not allowed.
Is it possible to submit a preprint simultaneously to PCI X and to a journal?
No, parallel submission is not possible because:
– Parallel reviewing might decrease the importance of the PCI review in the authors’ eyes. If a paper is accepted for publication in a journal before recommendation by PCI X, the authors may decide not to make the modifications requested by the PCI reviewers. This might also decrease the willingness of researchers to act as recommenders and reviewers for PCI X.
– Recommenders and reviewers may consider it a waste of time recommending or reviewing preprints that have already been submitted to a journal. Recommenders are likely to prefer to wait for publication of the article before its recommendation for PCI X (without the need for further review).
– A growing number of journals are accepting PCI X evaluations as part of their own editorial process.
– Sequential evaluation (PCI X first and then submission to a journal) is more likely to result in scientific improvement of the paper.
Is it possible to recommend old articles?
Yes, it is possible to recommend old articles. However, PCI X is a new system that focuses principally on the evaluation of new and unpublished preprints.
ARTICLE EVALUATION PROCESS
How are articles evaluated?
1. For preprints (i.e. articles neither published nor under consideration by a scientific journal) deposited in open archives online: One of the authors requests preprint recommendation from PCI X and can suggest recommenders. If a PCI X recommender is interested by the preprint, they initiate the evaluation process. This process is very similar to the process of evaluation for publication in a journal, and includes at least two high-quality peer reviews. Based on these reviews, the recommender decides to reject or to recommend the article as it stands, or asks the authors to revise their article. Several rounds of reviews may be required before a recommender decides to reject or recommend an article. When the recommender is satisfied by the reply and changes made by the authors, they can decide to recommend the article. This requires the recommender to write a “recommendation”, a short article, similar to a News & Views piece. This recommendation has its own title, contains between about 300 and 1500 words, describes the context, contains references (a reference to the article recommended at the very least) and explains why the article is particularly interesting. The limitations of the article may also be discussed. Once validated by the Managing Board, the “recommendation” and all the editorial correspondence (reviews, your decisions, authors’ replies) are then published by PCI X.
2. For published articles (i.e. articles already reviewed and published in scientific journals): Two recommenders of PCI X consider an article as particularly interesting and worth recommending to PCI X. They cowrite a “recommendation”, which is a short article, similar to a News & Views piece. It has its own title, contains between about 300 and 1500 words, describes the context, provides a link to the DOI of the article, contains references (a reference to the article recommended, at least) and explains why the article is particularly interesting. The limitations of the article may also be discussed. Once validated by the Managing Board, this “recommendation”, is published by PCI X.
3. The recommendation text, signed by two recommenders, provides a link to the DOI of the article and is published.
Are there guidelines for recommenders?
Are there guidelines for reviewers?
How can I submit my preprint to PCI X?
You must first deposit your preprint in an open archive. You then log onto the PCI X website or sign up if you do not yet have an account. You then click on the green button “Submit a preprint” and follow the procedure.
What format do recommendations take?
A “recommendation” is a short article, similar to a News & Views piece, written by one or several recommenders and describing why an article is particularly interesting. It has a DOI and is published in pdf and html formats in the electronic journal of PCI X. Each recommendation has its own title, contains between about 300 and 1500 words, includes references, describes the context and explains why the recommended article is particularly interesting. The limitations of the article may also be discussed.
Who is responsible for recommending the articles?
Any recommender of PCI X can perform this task, provided that they follow the code of ethical conduct of PCI X.
TRANSPARENCY AND ETHICS
What part of the evaluation process is made public?
All information leading to the recommendation of an article is made public: the name of the recommender responsible for recommending the article, their editorial decisions and recommendation text, the reviews and suggested corrections and the authors’ replies are available from the PCI X website, and the consecutive versions of the preprint are deposited in open archives. Only the name of the additional reviewers may be withheld.
How is freedom from bias, cronyism, retaliation and flattery ensured?
Bias, cronyism, retaliation and flattery are limited by i) the transparency of the reviews, which are freely available and may be signed, and ii) the transparency of recommendation texts, which are freely available and must be signed. In addition, PCI X has established a code of ethical conduct (no conflict of interest, no recommending of articles authored by recent coauthors and/or friends, etc.) to be followed by its recommenders. The Managing Board of PCI X performs quality control checks to ensure that these ethical standards are adhered to for reviews and recommendations.
Are comments/reviews for rejected papers publicly available?
No, only reviews and comments leading to the attribution of a recommendation (positive, but with criticisms and suggestions for improvement) are published. When a paper is rejected, the reviews and comments are sent to the authors but are not published.
Can people who are not recommenders for PCI X submit their preprints to PCI X?
Yes, all authors, whether or not they belong to PCI X, can submit their preprints to PCI X.
FATE AND CITATIONS OF RECOMMENDED ARTICLES
How should you cite a recommendation?
Each recommendation by PCI X has a DOI and can therefore be cited in your CV and in manuscripts. For example:
Bravo IG (2017) Unmasking the delusive appearance of negative frequency-dependent selection. Peer Community in Evolutionary Biology, 100024. doi: 10.24072/pci.evolbiol.100024
How should you cite a recommended article?
When an article is recommended by a PCI, you can cite it as follows, by indicating which version of the article has been peer-reviewed and recommended:
Gallet R, Froissart R, Ravigné V. (2017) Things softly attained are long retained: Dissecting the impacts of selection regimes on polymorphism maintenance in experimental spatially heterogeneous environments. biorXiv, 100743, ver. 4 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community In Evolutionary Biology. doi: 10.1101/100743
Are the recommended articles edited by PCI X?
No, no editing (formatting) of the articles is carried out by PCI. However PCI provides templates (word, Latex, Org-Mode, R-Markdown) to allow the authors to format their article if they wish. We also ask that the authors of recommended articles add a sentence in the acknowledgements stating that their article has been recommended by PCI X – e.g. see this article.
Do I have to deposit my recommended preprint into an institutional repository?
Some institutions require that authors deposit their Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM) into their institutional repositories. This is for example the case at CNRS where their open access policy asks researchers to deposit their accepted manuscripts into HAL (https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr). In such cases we advise authors to deposit into their institutional repository the version of their preprint that has been recommended by PCI.
Are the recommended articles indexed?
Yes, recommended articles are indexed. Google Scholar indexes all sorts of documents (articles, books, reports, etc.), including preprints deposited in repositories such as arXiv, bioRxiv1, and Hal. These platforms therefore record preprint citations in the same way as they record citations of articles published in journals. An author’s profile in Google Scholar would therefore take into account recommended articles, whether the articles concerned are articles from repositories or articles published in journals.
Europe PMC also indexes preprints (with a DOI) recommended by PCI. It is possible to search articles that are recommended by a PCI by performing an advanced search with “Peer Community In” in the External Links menu, or by pasting “(LABS_PUBS:”1826″)” in the search bar. This is a direct link to the articles recommended by a PCI: https://europepmc.org/search?query=%28LABS_PUBS:%221826%22%29
Would scientific journals accept articles with a PCI X recommendation as valid citable references?
Most, if not all journals already accept the citation of articles not published in peer-reviewed journals (e.g. book chapters and reports). As the articles recommended have been peer-reviewed, we see no reason why traditional journals would refuse to consider them valid.
Do scientific journals accept submission of preprint deposited in open archives?
Do scientific journals accept the submission of articles already reviewed and recommended by PCI X?
First, increasing numbers of journals are accepting articles deposited as preprints in open archives for submission. See http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo/index.php.
Second, an article reviewed and recommended by PCI X is an article with a guaranteed level of quality. It is not a published paper. There is, therefore, no reason for a journal to refuse the submission of recommended articles, quite the opposite in fact.
Third, our list of recommenders includes numerous associate editors, editors and editors-in-chief of major journals.
Fourth, the Editors-in-Chief of Ecology Letters, PLOS Biology, Evolution, Oikos, Evolutionary Ecology, Evolutionary Applications, Molecular Ecology, Journal of Biogeography, Global Ecology and Biogeography, Frontiers of Biogeography, BMC Evol Biol, Genetica, Journal of Evolutionary Biology, Evolution Letters, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Trends in Plant Sciences, Avian Biology, Ecography etc. (see the list here) have indicated they will consider submissions of recommended articles and that they may use PCI reviews and recommendations for their own review processes, if appropriate.
What happens if a recommended article is subsequently published in a scientific journal?
The recommendation refers only to the version of the article that has been recommended.
COMMENTING ON ARTICLE RECOMMENDATIONS
Can I comment on recommendations and on the corresponding articles?
Yes, everyone, including authors and readers, can comment on recommendations. All comments are 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 can be notified to the Managing Board, which may decide to withdraw them.
Can I reply to a comment on recommendations?
Yes, everyone, including authors and readers, can comment on recommendations, comments, and the corresponding article. All comments are 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 can be notified to the Managing Board, which may decide to withdraw them.
What if I disagree with a recommendation?
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 can be notified to the Managing Board, which may decide to withdraw them.