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The recipe for our (not so) secret Post-Publication Peer Review sauce!

Image credit:  Shrimp, Pork Chops, Bar. B. Q. by Steve Snodgrass, Flickr, CC BY
Image credit: Shrimp, Pork Chops, Bar. B. Q. by Steve Snodgrass, Flickr, CC BY

It seems that nearly every day there’s a new online conversation about Post-Publication Peer Review (PPPR). We participate in nearly every single one because PPPR is a hallmark of what we do at ScienceOpen.

Co-founder Alexander Grossmann (Physicist, Publisher, and Professor of Publishing Management), has posted on this topic many times, including this popular piece which traces the roots and flaws of the current system entitled “where did our Peer Review Mojo go?“.

It’s probably true to say that over the course of my career (PLOS & Nature), I’ve experienced many permutations of research communication but the one that I like the best is the one we offer at ScienceOpen. Before I joined in May, the team here had quietly developed a unique and smart way to make PPPR work.

It seems that now is the right time to clearly explain ScienceOpen’s unique approach to “publish then filter”. As the debate about PPPR intensifies it’s important to understand that “not all PPPR is equal”. Here’s our recipe:

  1. We publish articles with DOI within about a week after an initial editorial check – we don’t publish everything that we receive.
  2. We provide proofs, basic copy-editing and language help during the production cycle – if you think all OA publishers offer this, you’d be wrong!
  3. We facilitate Non Anonymous Post-Publication Peer Review (PPPR) from experts with at least five peer-reviewed publications per their ORCID to maintain the level of scientific discourse on the platform. We believe that those who have experienced Peer Review themselves should be more likely to understand the pitfalls of the process and offer constructive feedback to others.
  4. We give all reviews a DOI so they can be found and cited.
  5. We have methods for our editors to alert readers to any content problems – thankfully, we’ve not had cause to use them.
  6. We have versioning for authors who wish to respond to review feedback and revise their article.

You might think that running a publishing platform built around PPPR would keep us awake at night worrying about fake reviews and identities but oddly it doesn’t. We agree with Anurag Acharya, the co-founder of Google Scholar who stated in a recent Nature interview that when everything is visible, under your name, you can be called on it at anytime, so why risk ruining your reputation? Additionally, ORCID also has protections built into their system.

We think the ScienceOpen approach might just be the next wave of OA and there are some who agree with us. These include the experts on our Editorial and Advisory Boards such as Peter Suber, Stephen Curry, Anthony Atala, Bjorn Brembs, Raphael Levy, Philip Stark, Nick Jewell and many others.

But, what really convinces me that PPPR is the way forwards and that our method is going to give the community enough confidence to make the switch are the experiences of our authors. It’s easy to ignore yet another innovative organization telling you why their approach is the best but the voices of the community are always the most compelling.

PS If you have an article that you’d like to publish before the end of the year, there’s still time to do so with us.