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Non-Anon Post-Pub Peer Review in action!

Image attribution: Stop and Go, Nana B Agyel, Flickr, CC BY
Image attribution: Stop and Go, Nana B Agyel, Flickr, CC BY

One of the trickiest parts about launching anything new, also true for PLOS ONE too back in the day (hard to believe now!), is that the best way to explain what you do is to show it in action. Since we only officially launched in May, we’ve been watching some interesting use-cases develop, by which we mean ScienceOpen articles with Non-Anonymous Post-Publication Peer Review (PPPR). Even though we publish with DOI in about a week, it’s taken a little longer for the reviewers to have their say (reviews also receive a DOI), but we’re finding that what they say is well worth reading.

These articles and their associated reviews reassure us that PPPR, which some feel is still pretty radical, is a nascent but potentially healthy way to improve the way we review research. They also start to show that PPPR can benefit all sorts of research. If it can work for less spectacular, negative or contradictory research, then perhaps it will shine for once in a lifetime findings (which are of course far more rare).

Example 1. Professor Hugo Ten Cate (et al), a member of our Editorial Board, from Maastricht University, Dept of Internal Medicine, Maastricht, The Netherlands, published an article entitled “The anti-coagulants ASIS or APC do not protect against renal ischemia/ reperfusion injury” with us. It has received two PPPR from relevant experts, one by Professor Nigel Mackman and the other by Professor Ton Lisman. What really helps to tell the story of this article, from the author’s perspective, is that Hugo has made a video in which he explains that the results of this paper were not spectacular, in fact they were mostly negative, but that doesn’t mean that the article shouldn’t be published (and other journals did not want to do that) because it balances out other papers that show positive outcomes. Naturally, we agree with him!

Example 2.  Assistant Professor Nitika Pant Pai (et al), a member of our Editorial Board at McGill University in the Department of Medicine and a Scientist at the MUHC Research Institute, published an article entitled “Head to head comparisons in performance of CD4 point-of-care assays: a Bayesian meta-analysis (2000–2013)” with us. It has received a detailed review from Dr Paul Drain, a Medicine Resident at Stanford University.  Again, the author made a video in which she enthusiastically explains her support for Open Access and the concept of PPPR.

Example 3. Daniel Graziotin, a PhD student in Computer Science at the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Italy, published an article entitled “Green open access in computer science – an exploratory study on author-based self-archiving awareness, practice, and inhibitors,” with us which is an exploratory study of the awareness/practice/inhibitors of self-archiving among authors in an Italian computer science faculty. It has received two reviews, the first from Professor Stephen Curry (on our Editorial Board) and the other from Dr Alexandros Koulouris. In this case, the author gave us an interview to explain the background to this initial piece of research.

Example 4. Professor Nikos Karamanos (et al), a member of our Editorial Board from the University of Patras in Greece, published an article entitled “EGF/EGFR signaling axis is a significant regulator of the proteasome expression and activity in colon cancer cells” with us. It has received two reviews, one from Prof Dr Liliana Schaefer and the other from Assistant Professor Satoshi Tanida. Again, the author gave us an interview in which he explains the background to his article and his feelings on OA.

What do these use-cases tell us? Mostly that its early days, so meaningful observations are perhaps premature! However, here are some thoughts:

  • The reviewers that are being invited to the scientific conversation are participating and broadening the debate
  • The reviews are respectfully delivered with a straightforward tone, even when critical (probably because they are Non-Anon)
  • It’s good to see papers from the medical community, arguably the quintessential OA use-case for researchers, patients, their families and friends
  • The reviewers are appropriately matched to the content, authors can suggest up to 10 and anyone with 5 or more publications on their ORCID iD can review any content on the platform
  • The authors are largely, but not exclusively, from our Editorial Boards (no surprises here since they are usually the first to support a new publishing venture and are more senior so are freer to experiment)
  • Reading Non-Anon PPPR is a new skill requiring balancing a scholars background with their reviews and comparing/contrasting them with those of the others
  • None of these authors have yet used Versioning to revise their original articles in the light of reviewer feedback received (although this article is now on version 2)

Anyways, we hope you enjoy watching how PPPR at ScienceOpen evolves as much as we do! Feel free to leave a comment on this post to continue the conversation.