Scholarly publishers are working together to maximize the efficiency of peer review, ensuring that key work related to COVID-19 is reviewed and published as quickly and openly as possible.
The group of publishers and scholarly communications organizations — initially comprising eLife, Hindawi, PeerJ, PLOS, Royal Society, F1000 Research, FAIRsharing, Outbreak Science, and PREreview — is working on initiatives and standards to speed up the review process while ensuring rigor and reproducibility remain paramount. The group has issued an Open Letter of Intent and is launching an initiative to ensure a rapid, efficient, yet responsible review of COVID-19 content.
The initiative is asking for volunteer reviewers with suitable expertise relevant to COVID-19, from all career stages and disciplines, to add their names to a “rapid reviewer list“. By doing so, these reviewers will be committing to rapid reviewing times, and upfront agreement that their reviews and identity can be shared among participating publishers and journals if submissions get rerouted for any reason.
Additionally, the group is asking all potential reviewers, whether they sign up to the rapid reviewer list or not, to help identify and highlight important and crucial COVID-19 preprints as early as possible, to optimize the limited time of expert reviewers who are subsequently invited to review the most important and promising research by a journal/platform. The more rigorous and helpful review of preprints that can occur during this time, the better for all reviewers, authors, and editors.
Alongside all of this is a persistent call for openness by default — for the preprint, research, underlying data, models, code, materials — to maximize reproducibility and credibility, which is especially important during this time of crisis.
Sarah Greaves, Chief Publishing Officer at Hindawi commented that “Many publishers have already agreed to support the Wellcome Trust and World Health Organization (WHO) initiatives (1, 2) for COVID-19 papers. Alongside our colleagues we wanted to share that commitment with the research community. We’ve been listening to what they’ve been saying – and know that many researchers are struggling to find time for peer review and are worried that this could lead to delays in publication of research. By creating a joint call for available, relevant reviewers covering all research areas related to COVID-19 we hope to ease that burden.”
As regards review transfer, she added “By creating portable peer review between some of our journals we can save reviewers’ time by allowing editors to use reports from another journal when making their decisions. This reduces the pressure on those reviewing and ultimately increases the speed by which peer-reviewed work can be shared more widely. Here at Hindawi we are delighted to be working with colleagues from across the industry and look forward to more journals joining this initiative.”
Claire Redhead, Executive Director of OASPA, echoed the views of the group by stating “The importance of open access to research and data, the need for global cooperation and, importantly, the critical dependence of humanity on the scholarly community has never been more clear. The innovative steps being taken by this group of OASPA members will help to speed up the flow of verified research and help to ease the burden on the researchers working at the forefront of fields related to the pandemic. OASPA fully supports this collaborative approach between publishers, where the needs of researchers are placed front and centre, and community spirit – rather than competition – shines through.”
Please review the Open Letter of Intent above, and consider signing up as a rapid reviewer here.
UK – Ruth Francis, Hindawi (firstname.lastname@example.org)
USA – Dan Morgan, PLOS (email@example.com)
Publishers Group contacts:
OASPA contact: Claire Redhead, OASPA (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Group: eLife, Hindawi, PeerJ, PLOS, Royal Society, F1000 Research, FAIRsharing, Outbreak Science, and PREreview
eLife is a non-profit organisation created by funders and led by researchers. Our mission is to accelerate discovery by operating a platform for research communication that encourages and recognises the most responsible behaviours. We work across three major areas: publishing, technology and research culture. We aim to publish work of the highest standards and importance in all areas of biology and medicine, while exploring creative new ways to improve how research is assessed and published. We also invest in open-source technology innovation to modernise the infrastructure for science publishing and improve online tools for sharing, using and interacting with new results. eLife receives financial support and strategic guidance from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, the Max Planck Society and Wellcome. Learn more at https://elifesciences.org/about.
Hindawi Limited is one of the world’s largest open access publishers providing authors with an expansive portfolio of journals each built to fit the targeted communities they serve. Driven by a mission to advance openness in research, Hindawi also works with other publishers and institutions to move towards a more open scholarly ecosystem by supporting the development of open source publishing infrastructure.
PeerJ is an Open Access publisher of seven peer-reviewed journals covering biology, environmental sciences, computer sciences, and chemistry. With an emphasis on high-quality and efficient peer review, PeerJ’s mission is to give world-class researchers and the academic community the publishing tools and services they want with a unique and exciting experience. All works published by PeerJ are Open Access and published using a Creative Commons license. PeerJ is based in San Diego, CA and the UK and can be accessed at peerj.org and peerj.com.
PLOS is a nonprofit, Open Access publisher empowering researchers to accelerate progress in science and medicine by leading a transformation in research communication. Since our founding in 2001, PLOS journals have helped break boundaries in research communication to provide more opportunities, choice, and context for researchers and readers. For more information, visit http://www.plos.org.
Follow @PLOS on Twitter.
About the Royal Society
The Royal Society is a self-governing Fellowship of many of the world’s most distinguished scientists drawn from all areas of science, engineering, and medicine. The Society’s fundamental purpose, as it has been since its foundation in 1660, is to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.
The Royal Society’s international, peer reviewed journals publish high quality science https://royalsociety.org/journals/.
About F1000 Research
F1000 Research Ltd provides innovative open access publishing platforms offering rapid publication and open peer review, whilst supporting data deposition and sharing for the research community. F1000 Research Ltd’s own publishing platform, F1000Research, was launched in 2013 and was the first open research publishing platform combining the ability to publish rapidly with functionality to ensure transparency, robustness and reproducibility of research. Building upon the growth and success of its core platform, F1000 Research Ltd also provides fully managed, open research publishing services directly to research funders and institutions, including Wellcome, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and soon to launch with the European Commission.
FAIRsharing (https://fairsharing.org) is a curated, informative and educational resource that interlinks community standards (such as reporting guidelines, metadata schemas, formats and vocabularies) to databases, repositories and data policies (by funders and scholarly publishers). Its mission is to guide consumers to discover, select and use these resources with confidence, and producers to make their resource more discoverable, more widely adopted and citeable.
About Outbreak Science Rapid PREreview
Outbreak Science Rapid PREreview is an open-source project born by the collaboration of PREreview and Outbreak Science. The platform allows for any researcher with an ORCID iD to request or provide rapid, structured reviews of outbreak-related preprints. Rapid reviews are structured, high-level reviews designed to capture the importance and quality of the research. Rapid reviews by different reviewers are aggregated and visualized to facilitate the rapid interpretation of crowdsourced feedback.
PREreview is an open project fiscally sponsored by the non-profit organization Code for Science & Society. PREreview’s mission is to increase diversity in the scholarly peer review process by empowering all researchers to engage with preprint reviews.
Outbreak Science is a non-profit organization aimed at advancing the science of outbreak response, in particular by supporting early and open dissemination of data, code, and analytical results.
OASPA (Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association) is a membership organisation representing a community of scholarly publishers and related organisations, committed to advancing open access, preserving the integrity of scholarship, and promoting best practice. OASPA supports the transition to a world in which open access becomes the predominant model of publication for scholarly outputs and helps to ensure a diverse, vibrant, and healthy open access market that supports a wide variety of innovative solutions and business models. https://oaspa.org/