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Defining Open Peer Review at ScienceOpen

Recently, our colleagues at OpenAIRE have published a systematic review of ‘Open Peer Review’ (OPR). As part of this, they defined seven consistent traits of OPR, which we thought sounded like a remarkably good opportunity to help clarify how peer review works at ScienceOpen.

At ScienceOpen, we have over 31 million article records all available for public, post-publication peer review (PPPR), more than 3 million of which are full-text Open Access. This functionality is a response to increasing calls for continuous moderation of the published research literature, a consistent questioning of the functionality of the traditional peer review model (some examples in this post), and an increasing recognition that scientific discourse does not stop at the ‘event’ point of publication for any research article.

Peer Review at ScienceOpen – A brief summary

Open participation

At ScienceOpen, we invite the whole scientific community to contribute to the review process, should they wish to. The only requirement is that the person has to be registered at ORCID and have at least five publications assigned to their ORCID account to write a review (Scientific Members and Experts). If you do not satisfy these requirements and wish to perform a peer review at ScienceOpen, please contact us and we will make an exception for you.

Users with at least one publication assigned to their ORCID account are able to comment on a paper (Members). Please refer to our User categories for further details.

We also encourage users to use our ‘Invite to review’ function (see below), which is available on more than 31 million article records. We know that editorial control will always be a critical aspect of any open peer review system, including PPPR, and therefore encourage collection Editors to solicit peer reviews for articles within their collections.

Open identities

The review process at ScienceOpen is fully transparent and visible to the public. We expect everyone to express their opinion under their real identity in an objective, comprehensible and polite way. This process is facilitated via ORCID identification.

Since the identity of the reviewers is known, they will finally receive credit and recognition for their hard and important work as reviewers. Furthermore, since everyone is able to read the reviewer’s comments, everyone is able to make up their own mind about the quality of the review process.

Open reports

Review reports, including images and tables, are always published alongside the relevant articles. They are published under a CC-BY license, and each is assigned a CrossRef DOI to maximise their potential utility. This makes the process more reproducible and therefore valid as a scientific process. A four part star-rating system also exists for each article record, the mean of which is displayed alongside the reviews.

Open interaction

Direct reciprocal discussion between author(s) and reviewers, and/or between reviewers, is facilitated and encouraged. A working example of this in action at ScienceOpen can be found here.

Open pre-review manuscripts

ScienceOpen also contains more than 1.1 million full text article records drawn from the arXiv. Each one of these is open to our standard peer review and commenting functions. These records can even be organised into thematic collections, with collection editors organising peer review themselves.

Open final-version commenting

There is a general mentality among researchers that once a research article has been published, it has already ‘passed’ peer review, so why should it need to be peer reviewed again?

PPPR is about taking the everyday evaluations and critiques that researchers, and others, perform and adding that context to published research articles. ScienceOpen encourages peer review and commenting on more than 29 million final “version of record” publications.

Everyone benefits from this process – authors gain feedback and important criticism of their work; external researchers gain a deeper insight into research; and we all increase our general understanding of a topic. It’s the same as any other ‘social evaluation’ platform like Amazon – we use reviews to refine our knowledge of a ‘product’, or research paper, compare across ‘products’, and ultimately use this for advancing our own research as part of a wider community.

ScienceOpen as an open platform

We have more than 30 million article records in our database including both final and preprint versions. These are drawn from across more than 3000 publishers, and we facilitate peer review as a decoupled process from each of these within a single platform.

Providing recognition

Reviews are published under Creative Commons Attribution License CC-BY (4.0) and will receive a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) from CrossRef. This makes them fully equivalent to any Open Access publication, and they can be cited or integrated further into platforms like Publons, ImpactStory, or ORCID.

Further reading

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