How does it work?
Recommenders of a Peer Community in X manage the evaluation and recommend articles which have not been yet peer-reviewed – typically unpublished preprints deposited on an open repository. They can also recommend articles that have already been peer-reviewed, corresponding for instance to articles recommended by another Peer Community in X or articles published in traditional scientific journals.
Evaluation of preprints (i.e. articles not yet peer-reviewed)
- A group of authors deposits a preprint on an open repository, such as arXiv, bioRxiv1, etc., and the corresponding author submit the preprint to a Peer Community in X to obtain a recommendation (a dedicated webpage serves this purpose). Doing so, he/she certifies that this preprint is not under consideration by a traditional journal or by another Peer Community in X. He/she also declares that he/she will wait at least 20 days before either submitting this preprint to a journal or soliciting another Peer Community in X. This delay allows the solicited Peer Community in X to initiate a recommendation process.
- Recommenders of the Peer Community in X are alerted by the submission. If one recommender finds the preprint particularly interesting, he/she can decide to initiate the evaluation process. He/she becomes the recommender of this preprint.
- The recommender finds at least 2 reviewers within or outside Peer Community in X, on the basis of his/her expertise. The reviewers write their reviews. The recommender continues to solicit reviews until he/she obtains at least 2 high-quality reviews.
- After the recommender reaches a decision, he/she sends the reviews (which may or may not be written anonymously, at the reviewer’s discretion) and the decision to the authors and asks for modifications, if required. He/she eventually writes a short text of recommendation (alone or with co-recommenders) explaining the recommendation, when all the requested modifications have been made.
- The recommendation text signed by the recommender and co-recommenders, all reviews (anonymous or not), and the link to the last version of the manuscript are sent to the Managing board of Peer Community in X. Before sending their recommendation and review, all recommenders and reviewers will have to certify that they have no conflict of interests of any kind with the content and with the authors of the article, and that they are not recommending or reviewing an article published by close colleagues, recent co-authors, relatives or friends. The Managing board performs a quality check on the format and the deontology of reviews and recommendation.
- The recommendation text signed by the recommender and co-recommenders, all reviews (anonymous or not), and the link to the last version of the manuscript are finally posted on the web site of Peer Community in X.
Recommendation of articles already peer-reviewed
- A recommender of a Peer Community in X reads an article already peer-reviewed (e.g. an article published in a journal or a preprint recommended by another Peer Community in X), finds it particularly interesting and would like to recommend it. He/she becomes “recommender” of this article.
- He/she looks for a second “recommender” within or outside its Peer Community in X, on the basis of his/her expertise for a joint recommendation of the manuscript. They write together a short text of recommendation (at least about half page). Reviews are not needed, because the article was already reviewed.
- Both “recommenders” sign the recommendation text and send it with the link to the Managing board of their Peer Community in X. Before sending their recommendation, all recommenders will have to certify that they have no conflict of interests of any kind with the content or with the authors of the article, and that they are not recommending an article published by close colleagues, recent co-authors, relatives or friends. The Managing board performs a quality check on the format and the deontology of the recommendation.
- The recommendation text signed by the recommenders is posted
How and why submitting your preprints to a PCI?
To submit your preprints go to
Five good reasons to submit your preprint to a PCI
- PCI, based on preprints, is a free, innovative initiative. It does not rely on private or for-profit publishers, but on your scientific community. These articles are scientifically validated and recommended free of charge.
- PCI guarantees the scientific validity of preprints. Once recommended, your article can be cited as “peer-reviewed”! Moreover, it is associated with a high-quality recommendation text signed by renowned scientists in the field, which is likely to stimulate interest in your article. Readers have access to your article and its recommendation entirely free of charge.
- PCI recommendations are transparent: the entire editorial process is public. Readers will have access to reviews and will know on what basis your article has been recommended, which is not the case for the vast majority of articles published in journals.
- PCI recommendation and publication in a journal are not mutually exclusive: your article can be recommended by a PCI and then submitted to a journal. Authors need only wait for the outcome of the recommendation process before submitting their articles for publication in traditional journals. This requirement is imposed solely to prevent parallel reviewing processes.
- PCI can increase the chances of your article being accepted by a traditional journal. The reviews of your article and the modifications requested can substantially increase the quality of your article before its submission to a traditional journal, thereby increasing the likelihood of acceptance. For instance, in ecology and evolution, the Editors-in-Chief of Ecology Letters, Evolution, BMC Evol Biol, Oikos, Evolutionary Ecology, Evolutionary Applications, Molecular Ecology, Frontiers of Biogeography, Genetica, and Journal of Evolutionary Biology (see the complete list here) have indicated they will consider submissions of recommended articles and they may use PCI reviews and recommendations for their own review processes.
Before submitting a preprint to a PCI
Before submitting a preprint, authors should pay attention to the following points: – Authors must have no financial conflict of interest relating to the preprint they are about to submit. The preprint must contain a “Conflict of interest disclosure” paragraph before the reference section containing this sentence: “The authors of this article declare that they have no financial conflict of interest with the content of this article.” – Authors must pay attention to the form of the text, figures and tables, and must check for typographical errors, in particular. Authors must also ensure that all tables, figures and supplementary materials are available and correctly numbered. – Data of the articles must be available to readers after recommendation, in the article or through deposition in an open data repository, such as Zenodo, Dryad or institutional repositories, for example. – Details of the quantitative analyses (e.g. data treatment and statistical scripts in R, bioinformatic pipeline scripts, etc.) in the recommended articles must be available to readers in the text or as appendices or supplementary materials, for example. – Details of the experimental procedures in the recommended articles must be available to readers.
Submitting a preprint to a PCI
To submit an article, you should first post it on a preprint server, such as bioRxiv1 or arXiv. When the article has appeared on this server,
1) Go to the website of the PCI of your choice (PCI Evol Biol, PCI Ecol, PCI Paleo) and log in
2) Click on the green ‘SUBMIT A PREPRINT’ button
3) Complete the form (title, authors, DOI, abstract, keywords, thematic fields)
4) Suggest recommenders by clicking on the blue ‘SUGGEST RECOMMENDERS’ button. Each time you suggest a new recommender, you can add others, or remove a suggested recommender by clicking on the orange ‘REMOVE’ button
5) Complete your submission by clicking on the green ‘COMPLETE YOUR SUBMISSION’ button. This will result in your submission being sent to the managing board for validation.
During the submission process, you will have the option of suggesting recommenders who could handle the evaluation of your preprint. A recommender is very similar to a journal editor. He/she is responsible for finding reviewers, collecting reviews, and making editorial decisions based on reviews. He/she may eventually recommend your article after one or several rounds of review.
Note that the PCIs are under no obligation to consider your submitted preprint. Only submitted preprints selected by a recommender enter the evaluation process. Although we cannot guarantee that your preprint will be reviewed, all possible efforts will be made to make this possible.
How and why becoming a recommender for a PCI?
Five good reasons to become a PCI recommender
- PCI is a new, innovative and totally free publication process managed by scientists for scientists. This set-up reduces the financial burden on academic institutions in terms of publication costs and journal purchases.
- PCI accelerates the dissemination of science. It promotes the use of preprints, whilst ensuring that these preprints are peer-reviewed, and therefore scientifically validated.
- Not all preprints will be considered. PCI recommenders initiate the recommendation process only if they feel that a preprint is worthy of recommendation. This prevents recommenders from being inundated with low-quality preprints that they are obliged to handle.
- The reviews and recommendations of the PCI are publicly available and valued. Recommendations and reviews are posted on the PCI website and are therefore publicly available, free of charge. Individual recommenders and reviewers have their own webpage, including all their reviews and recommendations. Each recommendation has a specific DOI, can be cited and is referenced as a scientific article by Google Scholars.
- Becoming a recommender for PCI does not entail a large workload. PCI recommenders decide whether and when to initiate a recommendation process. They are expected to recommend one or two papers per year, but are under no obligation to initiate any recommendation processes if they are too busy at a particular time. A very different task from that required of associate editors! You can therefore become a recommender without fear of having insufficient time to fulfil your obligations.
How to become a new recommender for a PCI?
Peer Community In (PCI) encourages researchers to become recommenders for all PCIs. We are particularly open to welcome ‘early/middle-career’ scientists if they have a significant experience in writing and evaluating articles.
The role of recommenders is similar to that of journal editors (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 a preprint, he/she writes a “recommendation” text 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 recommenders handle no more than a single article per year.
New recommenders are nominated by current recommenders and approved by the Managing Board of the corresponding PCI.
If you are interested in becoming a recommender, you may
- contact PCI at firstname.lastname@example.org and specify which PCI you would like to join,
- or ask a current recommender of a specific PCI to suggest your name to the Managing Board of this PCI, and then wait for their decision.
Code of Conduct
Authors, recommenders and reviewers for Peer Community in (PCI) must agree to comply with the following rules:
- Recommenders for PCI and reviewers should have no financial conflict of interest (see a defintion below) relating to the articles they evaluate.
- Authors should have no financial conflict of interest (see a defintion below) relating to the articles they submit to PCI. Submitted preprints must therefore contain a section indicating that “The authors of this article declare that they have no financial conflict of interest with the content of this article.”
- Authors should have as little non-financial conflict of interest (see a defintion below) as possible relating to the articles they submit to PCI, although a complete absence of conflict of interest may be difficult to achieve due to the scientific interest in the subject. Such conflicts of interest must be declared by the authors in the “Conflict of interest” section of their submitted article.
- Recommenders for PCI and reviewers should have as little non-financial conflict of interest (see a definition below) as possible relating to the articles they evaluate, although a complete absence of conflict of interest may be difficult to achieve due to the scientific interest in the subject required. For instance, recommenders for PCI and reviewers should not evaluate articles written by close colleagues and coworkers (people belonging to the same laboratory/unit/department in the last four years, people with whom they have published in the last four years, with whom they have received joint funding in the last four years, or with whom they are currently writing a manuscript, or submitting a grant proposal), or written by family members, friends, or anyone for whom bias might affect the nature of their recommendation.
- Reviews, recommendations, comments and messages should always be respectful to the authors.
- Reviews and recommendations should be of high quality. Reviews should be sufficiently deep and detailed for the PCI recommender handling the recommendation process to gain a full appreciation of the qualities, defects and limitations of the article. Texts (reviews, recommendations, comments, messages to authors) will be returned to PCI recommenders and reviewers if they do not respect these rules.
- Authors, recommenders for PCI and reviewers must ensure that the data for recommended articles are available to readers, through deposition in an open data repository, such as Zenodo, Dryad or institutional repositories, for example. Deposited data must have a digital object identifier (DOI). Authors, recommenders and reviewers must also check that details of the quantitative analyses (e.g. data treatment and statistical scripts in R, bioinformatic pipelines scripts, etc.) in the recommended articles are available to the readers, as appendices or supplementary online materials (in this case, the supplementary material must have a digital object identifier (DOI)), for example.
What is a conflict of interest?
- A financial interest occurs when the authors, recommenders or reviewers:
-Receive (or have received in the past four years) salaries, reimbursements, fees, fellowship, grants, or funding from an entity with financial interests that may be affected by the results of the research presented in the article,
-have shares or stocks in an entity with economic interests that may be affected by the results of the research presented in the article or
-hold patents linked to the research presented in the article
- Non-financial conflicts of interests include political, personal, religious, ideological, academic, and intellectual interests of the authors, recommenders or reviewers that may be affected by the results of the research presented in the article.
The Managing Board of PCI X has the right to exclude recommenders from PCI X if they do not respect these rules.
Newsletter #6, May 2020
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Newsletter #3, February 2019
Newsletter #2, October 2018
Newsletter #1, August 2018
1. Note that bioRxiv currently displays a sentence stating that “This article is a preprint and has not been certified by peer review”. If your preprint is recommended by PCI, this sentence will unfortunately not be removed. Choose carefully the open repository in which you deposit your article (arXiv, OSF-preprints, zenodo, hal, university repositories, etc.).