Open Peer Review

As part of Open Access week, Rebecca Lawrence (Faculty of 1000) gave the first SURF Seminar talk of this academic year.

Rebecca launched F1000 Posters (an open access repository for conference posters from the world of Bioscience & Medicine). More recently, she has set up F1000 Research, an open access journal but with some interesting and innovative developments in terms of open peer review, and open access to research data.

Under the F1000 Research model, authors can submit articles and have them published online before going through the peer review process.  In-house checks are done to ensure basic standards are met before the article is uploaded, but the actual peer-review is done in the open and online.  The reviews, themselves, can be read and cited. (Each is given a doi .)  Readers can see where reviewers may have regarded the same paper in quite different ways.   Is this to be an important development in the future of scholarly publishing? Already, BMC Medicine  and BMJ Open are insisting upon open peer review, with the reports being published along with the name and affiliation of the reviewers.   

Faculty 1000 goes even further by publishing articles before the peer review process.  The reviewers’ reports then follow and are published online. Reviewers must say whether the work is in their opinion “Approved” or  “Approved with minor reservations” or  “Not Approved”. Once an article has 2 “Approved” or 1 “Approved “ and 2 “Approved with minor reservations”, it will be indexed in Scopus, PubMed, Embase, Cross-Ref and Google Scholar.

What are the arguments in favour of this system?

  • Speed – The traditional peer review process is cumbersome and slow. This way researchers can get their work out fast and avoid being scooped. F1000 Research claim an article can appear online within a week.
  • Recognition of the work of reviewers. Because the reviews are open and will have a doi, they can be read and cited.
  • Preventing or exposing bias in the review process.

These are just a few brief points from Rebecca’s talk. If you are interested in the idea of Open Peer Review, then you may also want to look at:

Peer J

Nature’s peer review debate

You might also be interested in the Guardian’s live chat this Friday (25 Oct between 12-2pm BST): The future of open access research and publishing

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