The first Peer Community in has been launched: Peer Community in Evolutionary Biology
Coming in late 2017: PCI Ecology, PCI Paleontology and PCI Computational Statistics
More than 300 recommenders have already joined Peer Community in Evolutionary Biology. Visit its website : www.evolbiol.peercommunityin.org
Reasons to believe in this project
This process is free, transparent and in line with current trends in the practices for screening/evaluating science used by researchers (social networks, deposition of papers in open archives, such as bioRxiv). It is likely to succeed for the following reasons:
Recommending could be a progressive, “invasive” process
1- The recommendation process could coexist with the current system of traditional scientific journals. Authors would be free to submit a preprint that has been reviewed and recommended by a Peer Community in X to a scientific journal. For instance, in ecology and evolution, the Editors-in-Chief of Ecology Letters, Oikos, Evolutionary Ecology, Evolutionary Applications, Molecular Ecology and the expected next Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Evolutionary Biology have indicated they will consider submissions of recommended preprints and they may use PCI reviews and recommendations for their own review processes.
2- Waiting for the comments and recommendation from a Peer Community in X can increase the value of an 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. The use of the recommendation system could then increase gradually, right from the start of its existence.
3- With the attribution of increasing numbers of recommendations to papers published in journals and deposited in open archives, these recommendations might gradually become the standard for evaluation of the quality of papers. This standard would have the advantage of being more direct and transparent than the currently used loose proxies of paper quality (such as the impact factor of journals). This would, in turn, encourage authors to deposit more of their papers in open archives, to get them recommended.
4- Peer Community in recommendations might become sufficiently prestigious that the authors would be confident that unpublished preprints deposited in open archives would be citable, cited and recognized. This situation would encourage them to deposit their preprints in such archives.
5- The free recommending of papers deposited in open archives could, therefore, become more and more common. This project would not, therefore, require authors to gamble dangerously on a new hypothetical, fragile system..
Researchers could easily join the project
1- Becoming a recommender of a Peer Community in X would not be associated with a substantial workload. Contrary to the current system, recommenders, unlike associate editors in traditional scientific journals, would have no commitment to review and recommend papers. Each recommender would rather be encouraged to review and recommend 1 or 2 articles per year in average. The constraints of this system are therefore self-imposed rather than external, which would favor participation in the Peer Community in X.
2- Each recommender of a Peer Community in X in would have his/her own personal page for displaying and reporting their reviews, comments and recommendations. This would make it easier to recognize the reviewing work that each researcher has performed for the community (not unlike the Publon initiative based on traditional journals). This might make being a recommender of a Peer Community in X very attractive.
3- One key advantage of this approach is that the project can be successful even if some of the recommenders of a Peer Community in X failed to provide any comments, reviews or recommendations. We expect that each recommender would review and recommend 1 or 2 articles per year in average. Hence, the project will not be jeopardized if some recommenders are inactive.
The project may receive strong institutional support
Strong institutional support (e.g. from USDA, NSF, ERC, Universities, Inra, CNRS, etc.) is a distinct possibility, because the current publishing system entails a considerable financial burden for these institutions. Some French institutes (e.g. Inra) and research laboratories (e.g. UMR CBGP) already provided support to the initiative.
See the Project in a few lines
See the FAQ
See the Movies and posters
Photography Credit: Ben Lee, Stockholm Library (CC-BY-NS-2.0)