This guest post is one of a series from sponsors of the OASPA Conference in 2020. Please note that the views in this post do not represent an official view or statement from OASPA. The post is from Fani Kelesidou of Hindawi
Unforeseen challenges, more often than not, offer unique opportunities for growth. This year presented all of us with an unprecedented challenge. A group of scholarly publishers raised above it and by working together managed to make a difference.
This year saw the birth of the C19 Rapid Review Initiative – a collaborative effort among publishers and organizations within the open access scholarly publishing industry that aims to instil transformative changes in the way key research is peer reviewed and published.
The initiative calls for volunteer reviewers to commit to rapid reviewing times introduced to facilitate fast-track publication of COVID-19 research and to pre-agree that their reviews and identity can be shared among publishers and journals, if submissions get rerouted to different publication venues.
By developing a dedicated peer reviewer pool for COVID-19 research and transferring peer-reviewed work between titles and publishers, the initiative ensures that relevant research is published more quickly, while still maintaining research integrity standards, no matter the journal or publisher it is originally submitted to. The key thing is to have important research findings made available as quickly and efficiently as possible, while maintaining rigorous processes and standards.
Research findings relevant to the outbreak are shared immediately with the World Health Organization upon journal submission by the journal and with the author’s knowledge. Moreover, research findings are made available via preprint servers before journal publication, or via platforms that make papers openly accessible before peer review, with clear statements regarding the availability of underlying data.
“At Hindawi, we have introduced a step post-submission where our internal Editors triage a manuscript for scope, language, and article type”, says Sarah Theissen, Publisher at Hindawi. “Once the manuscript has passed the triage and research integrity checks, we encourage the Editor to use the Rapid Peer Reviewer list to find willing and available reviewers who have agreed to an expedited time frame when reviewing these papers”, she adds. We also have added a fast-track process for production, as well as PubMed indexing. Lastly, all COVID-19 articles are exempt from an Article Processing Charge.
We hope these steps will help to increase the efficiency of peer review of COVID-19 research, alleviate the added burden placed on peer reviewers that stems from an increase in relevant submissions while supporting the global effort to ensure peer-reviewed research on COVID-19 is published as quickly and openly as possible. Initial data shows that at Hindawi, on average, COVID-19 articles are accepted for publication by 33% faster than our average time to accept.
The C19 Rapid Review initiative has received a positive response with almost 2,000 researchers signing up to be rapid reviewers, from more than 80 countries. In addition, the initiative is now endorsed by OASPA, SSRN and AfricArxiv, and additionally the Research on Research Institute (RoRI) will be driving forward the initiative’s reporting and analytics working group – using the C19 Rapid Review group as a case study for their wider research on research projects.
Recently, UCL Press, Springer Nature, MIT Press, and Cambridge University Press joined the collaboration with a number of their titles, increasing the original group of nine publishers and organizations to 20 and establishing the C19 Rapid Review Initiative as one of the largest cross-publisher collaborations in the scholarly publishing industry.
At Hindawi, we see scientific publishing as a collaborative effort to make a transformative impact on society. Our ethos and mission are built upon the principles of openness, community, and collaboration. The C19 Rapid Review embodies these principles. Our hope is that the changes that this initiative fosters will be long-lasting and push the boundaries of Open Science even further.
Fani Kelesidou is Brand Marketing Manager at Hindawi and has been handling external communications for the C19 Rapid Review Group.
We are grateful to Hindawi and all of our 2020 conference sponsors for their support.