How can something exclusive, secretive, and irreproducible be considered to be objective? How can something exclusive, secretive, and irreproducible be considered as a ‘gold standard’ of any sort?
Traditional, closed peer review has these traits, but yet for some reason held in esteem as the most rigorous and objective standard of research and knowledge generation that we have. Peer review fails peer review, and its own test of integrity and validation, and is one of the greatest ironies of the academic world.
What we need is a new standard of peer review that is suitable for a Web-based world of scholarly communication. This is to help accommodate the increasingly rapid communication of research and new sources of information, and bring peer review out of the dark (literally) ages and into one which makes sense in a world of fast, open, digital knowledge dissemination.
What should a standard for peer review look like in 2017?
The big test for peer review, and any future version of it, is how does the scientific community apply its stamp of approval?
At ScienceOpen, we have over 28 million article records all available for public, post-publication peer review (PPPR), 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 point of publication for any research article.
In spite of this increasing demand, the uptake of PPPR across different platforms seems to be relatively low overall. So what are some of the main reasons why researchers might feel less motivated to do PPPR, and is there anything we can do to increase its usage and adoption as part of a more open research culture?
What even is ‘post-publication’ peer review?
There is a general mentality among researchers that once research has been published, it has already ‘passed’ peer review, so why should it need to be peer reviewed again?
The Pitt and Hill (2016) article was read and downloaded almost 100 times a day since its publication on ScienceOpen. More importantly, it now has 7 independent post-publication peer reviews and 5 comments. Although this is a single paper in ScienceOpen’s vast index of 28 million research articles (all open to post-publication peer review!), the story of how this article got so much attention is worth re-telling.
Prof. Stark runs a course on the theory and application of statistical models. In his course, groups of students replicate and critique the statistical analyses of published research articles using the article’s publicly available raw data. Obviously, for this course to work, Prof. Stark needs rigorous research articles and the raw data used in the article. In this sense, Pitt and Hill’s article on ScienceOpen was an ideal candidate..
The groups of students started their critical replication of the Hill and Pitt article in the Fall semester of 2016 and finished right before the new year. By getting students to actively engage with research, they gain the confidence and expertise to critically analyse published research.
The Post-Publication Peer Review function on ScienceOpen is usually only open to researchers with more than 5 published articles. This would have normally barred Stark’s groups from publishing their critical replications. However, upon hearing about his amazing initiative, ScienceOpen opened their review function to each of Prof. Stark’s vetted early career researchers. And importantly, since each peer review on ScienceOpen is assigned a CrossRef DOI along with a CC-BY license, after posting their reviews, each member of the group has officially shared their very own scientific publication.
All of the complete peer reviews from the groups of students can be found below. They all come with highly detailed statistical analyses of the research, and are thorough, constructive, and critical, as we expect an open peer review process to be.
Furthermore, unlike almost every other Post Publication Peer Review function out there, the peer reviews on ScienceOpen are integrated with graphics and plots. This awesome feature was added specifically for Prof. Stark’s course, but note that it is now available for any peer review on ScienceOpen.
For Peer Review Week 2016, we set a simple competition for you all, to publicly peer review one of 25 million research articles on our platform. This fitted perfectly with the theme this year of ‘Recognising Review’, as every single peer review conducted with us is published openly and creditable through the application of a CC BY license, which enables the unrestricted sharing and re-use of the reviews providing that attribution is given.
We’re happy to announce that Lauren Collister was the winner this year, and a t-shirt is on your way!
To honor and celebrate peer review, a group of organizations is working collaboratively to plan a week of activities and events. The group is delighted to announce that the second annual Peer Review Week will run from September 19- 25, 2016.
This year’s theme is Recognition for Review, exploring all aspects of how those participating in review activity – in publishing, grant review, conference submissions, promotion and tenure, and more – should be recognized for their contribution.
NOTE: OpenAIRE would like to know what you think about open peer review! Have your say here until 7th October!
Tl;dr – “Post-publication peer review” (PPPR) has gained a lot of traction in recent years. As with much of peer review’s confusing lexicon, however, this term is ambiguous. This ambiguity stems from confusion over what constitutes “publication” in the digital age. PPPR conflates two distinct phenomena, which we would do better to treat separately, namely “open pre-review manuscripts” and “open final-version commenting”.
What is “post-publication peer review”?
Peer review can have two senses, one specific and the other more general. “Peer Review” (henceforth PR) is a well-defined publishing practice for the quality assurance of research articles and other academic outputs. It is intimately tied to the publication process. It traditionally begins when an editor sends a manuscript to reviewers and ends when the editor accepts a manuscript for publication. But “peer review” (lower-case, henceforth “pr”) is just the critique and appraisal of ideas, theories, and findings by those with particular insight into a topic. Such feedback happens all the time. It happens before manuscripts are submitted: in colleagues’ initial reactions (positive or negative) to a new idea, feedback gained from conferences, lectures, seminars and late-night bull sessions, or private comments on late-stage first-draft manuscripts from trusted peers. And it continues after the article’s appearance in a journal, via a multitude of channels through which readers can give feedback, including comment sections on journal websites, dedicated channels for post-publication commentary, blogs and social media, and of course in future research that cites and comments back on the findings.
It’s the most wondrous time of the year! Peer Review Week is the time when the scholarly communications community comes together to recognise the importance and value of peer review and peer reviewers.
This year, the theme is all about Recognising Review, and the valiant efforts of the research community in performing and managing peer review.
To celebrate this, and discuss the topic further, we will be holding a webinar on September 19th at 11AM GMT all about new and future approaches for acknowledging the peer review process.
Peer review week is almost upon us, yippee! Taking place from the 19-26th of September, this is a global event for celebrating the critical role that peer review plays in the scholarly communication process.
The theme this week is recognising peer review, something that at ScienceOpen we’ve been passionate about since our inception. Other science startups like Publons have already launched amazing initiatives like their Sentinels of Science campaign, well worth checking out. For updates, follow the #RecognizeReview hashtag on Twitter!
This theme couldn’t be better timed. At the moment in scholarly publishing and communications, there’s something of a renaissance happening where we’re exploring aspects of recognising all the different types of review activity, including in publishing, research grants, conference submissions, and promotion and tenure.
There are many many amazing blogs and bloggers out there that provide critical comments, context, and feedback on the ‘formally published’ research literature. One problem with these though is that they are often divorced from the papers themselves, perhaps lost on obscure websites, or not hitting the right target audience. This seems like an awful waste, don’t you think?
While some great initiatives such as The Winnower will now publish blog posts openly, these still are not connected to the papers that they are based on, if they are indeed written about particular papers. But what do researchers think about blogging as a form of scholarly communication in the form of post-publication peer review?
So as with most of my ponderings, I took to Twitter to get some feedback with a little poll. I actually framed the question a little ambiguously, but this shouldn’t sufficiently skew the data in any direction (I hope).
Do you consider blogging to be a form of post-publication peer review?
What is interesting to me is that 41% of people who answered, who undoubtedly did not constitute just a researcher sample, do not consider blogging to ‘count’ as peer review. I would really love to know why this is the case for some people. Perhaps they haven’t seen good examples, or perhaps just because it’s not formalised in any way, and quite disassociated from the research literature.
But did you know that anyone can review any article they want on ScienceOpen, and not just those from ScienceOpen Research? And perhaps more importantly, anyone can invite anyone else to review any article? That sounds an awful lot like the daytime job for Editors at traditional journals.. But with the power firmly in the hand of researchers and their communities. How cool is that?
It’s super easy to implement too. All you have to do is go to an article of choice, click the ‘Reviews’ button (Step 1), and then select the ‘Invite to Review’ button (Step 2). If you were feeling inclined, you could review the paper yourself too!
You can then simply select their ScienceOpen username (what, you don’t have one yet?!), or invite them by email (Step 3).