"PEER COMMUNITY IN" PROJECT


FUNCTIONING OF PEER COMMUNITY IN EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY (PCI Evol Biol)


PCI EVOL BIOL STRUCTURE


SELECTION OF ARTICLES


ARTICLE EVALUATION PROCESS


TRANSPARENCY AND ETHICS


FATE AND CITATIONS OF RECOMMENDED ARTICLES


COMMENTING ON ARTICLE RECOMMENDATIONS

 


"PEER COMMUNITY IN" (PCI) PROJECT

What is the “Peer Community in” project?

The PCI project is a non-profit scientific organization that aims to create specific communities of researchers reviewing and recommending preprints (unpublished articles) and, to a lesser extent, recommending postprints (published articles) in their field. These specific communities are entitled Peer Community in X, e.g. Peer Community in Evolutionary Biology.
The goal of the PCIs is to highlight and recommend preprints as of particular interest to the community concerned. The preprints recommended by PCIs are complete articles of high value that do not necessarily need to be published in traditional journals.

What is the goal of the various PCIs?

The aim of PCI is to offer scientists a free, stimulating, transparent and non-exclusive way to validate and promote their scientific output, by removing this monopoly from journals.
PCIs publicly highlight and recommend high-quality preprints. The preprints recommended by PCIs are complete articles of high value, that are reliable and citable without the need for publication in traditional journals.

What is the role of the recommender?

Recommenders evaluate, and may choose to recommend preprints that have not been published by or submitted to a journal. To a lesser extent, they may also recommend postprints, i.e. articles already published in journals. Preprint evaluation is a role similar to that of a journal editor (finding reviewers, collecting reviews, making editorial decisions based on reviews), with the possibility of recommending the preprint after several rounds of review. When recommenders decide to recommend a preprint, they write a “recommendation”, which has its own DOI and is published in the electronic journal of the PCI in X. The recommendation is a short article, similar to a News & Views piece. It has its own title, contains between about 300 and 1500 words, describes the context and explains why the preprint is particularly interesting. The limitations of the preprint may also be discussed. This text also contains references (citing at least the recommended preprint). The recommendation of a postprint is more straightforward: the recommender selects a postprint that he/she wishes to recommend and invites a second recommender from PCI in X to write a joint recommendation text.

What is a recommendation?

A “recommendation” is a short article written by one or several recommenders, describing why an article (preprint or postprint) is particularly interesting. It has a DOI and is published in the electronic journal of the PCI. The recommendation is a short article, similar to a News & Views piece. It has its own title, contains between about 300 and 1500 words, describes the context, explains why the preprint is particularly interesting and contains references (at least one, to the preprint recommended). The limitations of the preprint may also be discussed.

What are the key features of recommendations?

Stimulating: Peer Community in X recommends remarkable articles.

Free: there are no fees associated with the evaluation process, and no charge for access to the comments and recommendations. The website is freely accessible.

Transparent: Reviews and recommendations (for preprints) and recommendations (for postprints) are freely available for consultation. Recommendations are signed by the recommenders. Reviewers may choose to remain anonymous or to sign their reviews.

Flexible and simple: The Managing Board does not intervene in the process (i.e. it does not act as an editorial committee), other than to resolve problems between authors and the recommenders evaluating their articles. It also performs quality control checks, assessing the format and deontology of reviews and recommendations.

Not exclusive: A preprint may be recommended by different Peer Communities in X (a feature of particular interest for articles relating to multidisciplinary studies) and may even subsequently be published in a traditional journal (although this is not the goal of the PCIs).

What place will the PCI project occupy in the scientific landscape?

Several Peer Communities in X will exist in various scientific fields (e.g. phytopathology, ecology, cancer research, etc.). The goal is not to set up a monopoly, and several alternative recommending systems may coexist with the PCI project. Preprints recommended by PCIs would not necessarily require subsequent publication in classic journals, because they are high-quality complete articles that are reliable and citable in their own right. In time, we expect PCIs to become the major medium for the publication of scientific output.

F1000Prime: Readers have to pay to read F1000 recommendations. F1000Prime is a for-profit business and is not intended to replace the current system based on journal publications. F1000Prime recommendations concern only published articles. F1000Prime does not, to our knowledge, wish to recommend preprints.

Winnover is “an open access online scholarly publishing platform that employs open post-publication peer review”. There is a fee ($25 per DOI) and it does not provide any recommendations. Winnover allows authors 1) to upload an article onto their platform and then encourages researchers, colleagues, and other scientists to make critical comments on the article over a given period of time and 2) to revise the article on the basis of the comments received and to provide the new version with a DOI. It is therefore not a “recommendation” as such, but an open process of critical review without a given threshold determining whether an article may be considered scientifically “valid”.

The Peerage of Science initiative operates upstream from the publication system and provides support to existing scientific journals. It is not, therefore, intended to replace the current system. The goal is to submit an article actively to obtain constructive criticism before submitting it (and the responses to the criticisms received) to a scientific journal. It is stated that “Authors may accept a live publishing offer from a subscription-only journal, or may choose to export the peer reviews to any journal of their choice.” and that “The revenues of Peerage of Science come from organizations wishing to purchase the peer review services for use in their decision-making, such as publishers, funding organization, and universities.” Again, this is a very different model from the PCI project.

Episcience has the objective of favoring the emergence of “epijournals”, electronic open-access journals containing items deposited in open archives, such as arXiv, and not published elsewhere. Our project is not intended to create a journal. It is, instead, a system for recognizing remarkable articles by awarding them a recommendation, and this recommending process is possible for both articles that have already been published and for articles deposited in open archives.

eLife is a journal publishing original articles with publication fees. "On January 1, 2017, eLife will introduce a fee for publication. A fee of $2,500 will be collected for all published papers submitted on or after this date"(https://submit.elifesciences.org/html/elifeauthorinstructions.html#fees).

PeerJ: Authors have to pay to publish in PeerJ. Either they pay $1,095 to publish a paper or each author pays a one-off fee of $399 (or more) allowing them to publish 1 (or more) paper/year in the journal (https://peerj.com/pricing/#apc-membership-pricing).

How can I start a new Peer Community in X?

The non-profit PCI organization is responsible for the creation and functioning of the various specific Peer Communities in X. The members of the Managing Boards of each Peer Community in X will also be members of the non-profit “Peer Community in” organization. Hence, representatives of all existing Peer Communities in X would collectively take decisions concerning the creation of each new Peer Community in X. If you would like to launch a new Peer Community in X, you should contact a Managing Board member and explain your project.

Yes, and this is one of the chief advantages of PCI. The recommendation process is not exclusive and articles of interest to several different Peer Communities in X could be recommended by all those communities. This aspect is of particular interest for articles dealing with multidisciplinary studies. There would be no a priori hierarchy of communities, although some would be highly generalist (e.g. PCI Mathematics) whereas others would be more specialized (e.g. PCI Entomology). However, to avoid recommendations of various versions of an article, a preprint already recommended by a Peer Community in X could only be recommended by another Peer Community in X as it stands. In other words, once a Peer Community in X has recommended a preprint, this latter must be considered reviewed (i.e. like a published article) by all the other Peer Communities in X interested by recommending it.

Who came up with this project?

The PCI project is an original idea of Denis Bourguet, Benoit Facon and Thomas Guillemaud, working at INRA (the French National Institute for Agricultural Research) in France.


 

FUNCTIONING OF PEER COMMUNITY IN EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY (PCI Evol Biol)

What do I have to do as a recommender for PCI Evol Biol?

Each recommender is expected to manage the evaluation process for one or two articles per year, on average. Thus, becoming a recommender for PCI Evol Biol is not associated with a substantial workload. Recommenders evaluate and may recommend preprints that have not been published by or submitted to a journal. To a lesser extent, they can also recommend postprints (i.e. articles published in journals). Evaluating a preprint means playing a role similar to that of a journal editor (finding reviewers, collecting reviews, making editorial decisions based on reviews) and, possibly, recommending the preprint after several rounds of review. Recommenders deciding to recommend a particular preprint write a “recommendation” for that preprint, which has its own DOI and is published in the electronic journal of the PCI in X. The recommendation is a short article, similar to a News & Views piece. It has its own title, contains between about 300 and 1500 words, describes the context and explains why the preprint is particularly interesting. The limitations of the preprint can also be discussed. This text also contains references (referring at least to the preprint recommended). Recommending a postprint is more straightforward: the recommender chooses a postprint that he/she wishes to recommend and invites a second recommender from PCI in X to write a joint recommendation text.

How can I become a recommender for PCI Evol Biol?

New recommenders are nominated by current recommenders and approved by the Managing Board. If you are interested in becoming a recommender, please contact a current recommender in your field.

Each recommender manages the evaluation process for one or two articles per year, on average. No recommender is allowed to handle more than five articles per year, to minimize the risk of a few recommenders dominating the recommendations made.

Why would scientists care about a PCI Evol Biol recommendation?

Scientists will care because the recommendations are attributed by a recognized group of colleagues, free of charge, and colleagues, employers and funding agencies will almost certainly recognize this recommendation as a mark of quality.


 

PCI EVOL BIOL STRUCTURE

How big do you hope/expect PCI Evol Biol to be?

We expect PCI Evol Biol to bring together several hundred recommenders, but there will be no restriction on numbers. This size would be sufficient to recommend a large number of articles, even if each recommender recommends only one or two articles per year.

What does the Managing Board do?

The Managing Board of PCI Evol Biol is a group of nine recommenders from this community. Its principal function is approving the nomination of new recommenders for PCI Evol Biol. The Managing Board also deals with problems arising between authors and the recommenders responsible for evaluating and/or recommending articles. It detects and deals with dysfunctions of PCI Evol Biol, and may exclude recommenders, if necessary. It also performs quality control checks on the format and deontology of the reviews and recommendations published by PCI Evol Biol. Finally, members of the Managing Board of PCI Evol Biol are part of the non-profit organization “Peer Community in”. This non-profit organization is responsible for the creation and functioning of the various specific Peer Communities in X.

Who are the members of the Managing Board?

The Managing Board of PCI Evol Biol has nine members (six randomly chosen from the recommenders in this community, the other three members being the founders of PCI). The recommenders selected were allowed to decline. In cases of refusal, another recommender was selected at random and the whole process repeated until six members were obtained. Half the Managing Board is replaced each year. In addition, the founders of PCI Evol Biol are temporary members of the Managing Board for the first two years. The Managing Board will subsequently have only six members.

What are the duties of the Managing board?

The Managing Board of PCI Evol Biol is mostly responsible for nominating new recommenders for PCI Evol Biol. It also deals with problems arising between authors and the recommenders responsible for evaluating and/or recommending articles. The Managing Board detects and deals with dysfunctions of PCI Evol Biol, and may exclude recommenders from this community, if necessary. It also performs quality control checks on the format and deontology of the reviews and recommendations published by PCI Evol Biol. Finally, members of the Managing Board of PCI Evol Biol belong to the non-profit organization “Peer Community in”. This non-profit organization is responsible for the creation and functioning of the various specific Peer Communities in X.

On what economic model is PCI Evol Biol based?

PCI Evol Biol is dependent on the “Peer Community in” non-profit organization (see https://peercommunityin.org).
Preprint authors do not have to pay to have their articles evaluated or recommended by PCI Evol Biol.
Readers do not have to pay for access to preprints, recommendations, peer reviews and editorial correspondence published by PCI Evol Biol.
Reviewers and recommenders are not paid for their work for PCI Evol Biol (just like the reviewers and associate editors of journals published by for-profit companies).
The founders and members of the Managing Board are not paid by PCI Evol Biol.
The scientific and administrative work underlying the functioning of PCI Evol Biol corresponds to approximately one full-time position (comparable to the work of an Editor-in-Chief, usually paid by his or her research institution, and possibly the work of both a managing editor and an editorial assistant of a journal), or two full-time positions if we include the development of the global PCI project.
The maintenance of the web site and the management of PCI Evol Biol e-mail addresses corresponds to approximately 0.1 full-time positions, or 0.5 full-time positions if we include the development of the global PCI project.
The people currently performing these tasks are employed by a French public research institute (The French National Institute for Agricultural Research, INRA).
The annual (non-salary) operating budget of PCI Evol Biol is about €5,000 (equivalent to the costs to authors of publishing two to four open-access articles in major evolutionary biology journals), or €20,000 if we include the development of the global PCI project.
This budget is currently funded by grants from research institutes (e.g. INRA), research laboratories and societies (e.g. SSE).

No, they are not.

Can recommenders of Peer Community in Evolutionary Biology be excluded if they do not do their job correctly?

Yes, the Managing board can exclude recommenders if their recommendations are of insufficient quality or if they do not respect the code of ethical conduct of PCI Evol Biol.

Are PCI Evol Biol data archived?

Yes. PCI Evol Biol regularly backs up its data in several mirror web sites. Recommendations and peer-reviews are deposited in HAL open archive.


 

SELECTION OF ARTICLES

What format must an article be in to be recommended?

Recommended articles may have diverse formats: reviews, comments, opinion articles, research articles, data articles, technical notes, computer notes, movies, etc. No editing, formatting or proof-reading of the recommended articles is required. We only ask the authors of recommended articles to add a cover page to their preprint and a sentence at the beginning of their abstract stating that their preprint has been peer-reviewed and recommended by PCI Evol Biol.

Which articles could be recommended?

The goal of PCI Evol Biol is to recommend preprints deposited in open online archives and, to a lesser extent, articles already published in scientific journals. Peer Communities in Evolutionary Biology recommenders are encouraged to recommend articles in the following descending order of priority: 1) preprints deposited in open online archives (hence freely accessible) and not yet published in scientific journals (to encourage the expansion of the recommendation process), 2) articles already published in scientific journals but published with open access (and preferably free of charge for authors) and 3) articles published in scientific journals but not with open access.

Are all submitted preprints recommended?

Any preprint can be recommended, provided a PCI Evol Biol recommender is willing to manage its evaluation and to recommend it. However, not all submitted preprints are recommended, because not all preprints achieve the required quality.

How can I submit my preprint to PCI Evol Biol?

Authors are invited to submit their preprints to PCI Evol Biol via a dedicated tool on the PCI Evol Biol website. For submission, the preprint must not have been published or be under consideration for publication in a traditional journal. If a PCI Evol Biol recommender is interested by evaluating the preprint he/she initiates the evaluation process.

Will some preprints be left unevaluated?

Yes, probably. Authors are invited to submit their preprint to PCI Evol Biol. But depending on the size of PCI Evol Biol, the number of preprints awaiting evaluation, and their quality, a fraction of those preprints may not be considered.

What if an author wants to submit his/her preprint to a journal and to PCI Evol Biol?

The processes of publication and recommendation are not exclusive: a preprint evaluated by PCI Evol Biol can subsequently be submitted to a journal. However, concurrent submission to a journal and to PCI Evol Biol – i.e. submission to PCI Evol Biol at the same time as submission to a traditional scientific journal – is not allowed.

Is it possible to recommend old articles?

Yes, it is possible to recommend old articles. However, PCI Evol Biol is a new system that focuses principally on the evaluation of new and unpublished preprints.


 

ARTICLE EVALUATION PROCESS

How are articles evaluated?

For preprints (i.e. articles neither published nor under consideration by a scientific journal): once deposited in open archives online, one author requests its evaluation from PCI Evol Biol and can suggest recommenders. If a PCI Evol Biol recommender is interested by the preprint, he/she initiates the evaluation process. This process is very similar to the process of evaluation for publication in a journal, and includes at least two high-quality peer reviews. Based on these reviews, the recommender decides to reject or to recommend the preprint as it stands, or asks the authors to revise their preprint. Several rounds of reviews may be required before a recommender decides to reject or recommend a preprint. When the recommender is satisfied by the reply and changes made by the authors, he/she can decide to recommend the preprint. This requires the recommender to write a “recommendation”, a short article, similar to a News & Views piece. This recommendation has its own title, contains between about 300 and 1500 words, describes the context, contains references (a reference to the preprint recommended at the very least) and explains why the preprint is particularly interesting. The limitations of the preprint may also be discussed. Once validated by the Managing Board, the “recommendation” and all the editorial correspondence (reviews, your decisions, authors’ replies) are then published by PCI Evol Biol.  
For postprints (i.e. articles already reviewed and published in scientific journals): Two recommenders of PCI Evol Biol consider a postprint as particularly interesting and worth recommending to PCI Evol Biol. They cowrite a “recommendation”, which is a short article, similar to a News & Views piece. It has its own title, contains between about 300 and 1500 words, describes the context, provides a link to the DOI of the article, contains references (a reference to the preprint recommended, at least) and explains why the postprint is particularly interesting. The limitations of the postprint may also be discussed. Once validated by the Managing Board, this “recommendation”, is published by PCI Evol Biol.  
The recommendation text, signed by two recommenders, provides a link to the DOI of the article and is published.

How can I submit my preprint to PCI Evol Biol?

You must first deposit your preprint in an open archive. You then log onto the PCI Evol Biol website or sign up if you do not yet have an account. You then click on the green button "Request a recommendation for your preprint"and follow the procedure.

Who is responsible for recommending the articles?

Any recommender of PCI Evol Biol can perform this task, provided that he/she follows the code of ethical conduct of PCI Evol Biol.

What format do recommendations take?

A “recommendation” is a short article, similar to a News & Views piece, written by one or several recommenders and describing why an article is particularly interesting. It has a DOI and is published in pdf and html formats in the electronic journal of PCI Evol Biol. Each recommendation has its own title, contains between about 300 and 1500 words, includes references, describes the context and explains why the recommended article is particularly interesting. The limitations of the article may also be discussed.


 

TRANSPARENCY AND ETHICS

How is freedom from bias, cronyism, retaliation and flattery ensured?

Bias, cronyism, retaliation and flattery are limited by i) the transparency of the reviews, which are freely available and may be signed, and ii) the transparency of recommendation texts, which are freely available and must be signed. In addition, PCI Evol Biol has established a code of ethical conduct (no conflict of interest, no recommending of articles authored by recent coauthors and/or friends, etc.) to be followed by its recommenders. The Managing Board of PCI Evol Biol performs quality control checks to ensure that these ethical standards are adhered to for reviews and recommendations.

What part of the evaluation process is made public?

All information leading to the recommendation of an article is made public: the name of the recommender responsible for recommending the article, his/her editorial decisions and recommendation text, the reviews and suggested corrections and the authors’ replies are available from the PCI Evol Biol website, and the consecutive versions of the preprint are deposited in open archives. Only the name of the additional reviewers may be withheld.

Are negative comments/reviews publicly available?

No, only reviews and comments leading to the attribution of a recommendation (positive, but with criticisms and suggestions for improvement) are published. All the comments, suggestions and corrections leading to the recommendation being awarded are made public.

Can people who are not recommenders for PCI Evol Biol submit their preprints to PCI Evol Biol?

Yes, all authors, whether or not they belong to PCI Evol Biol, can submit their preprints to PCI Evol Biol.


 

FATE AND CITATIONS OF RECOMMENDED ARTICLES

How should you cite a recommendation?

Each recommendation by PCI Evol Biol has a DOI and can therefore be cited as follows (in your CV and in manuscripts):
Bravo IG (2017) Unmasking the delusive appearance of negative frequency-dependent selection. Peer Community in Evolutionary Biology, 100024. Doi: 10.24072/pci.evolbiol.100024

When an article (a preprint or a postprint) is recommended by PCI Evol Biol, you can cite it in your CV and your articles as follows:

In your CV

  • Brisson D (2017) Negative frequency-dependent selection is frequently confounding. bioRxiv 113324, ver. 3 of 20th June 2017. doi: 10.1101/113324 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community In Evolutionary Biology (Bravo 2017 - Doi: 10.24072/pci.evolbiol.100024)

In your manuscripts

"… as proposed by Brisson (2017, recommended by Bravo 2017)", In the references of the manuscript:
- Bravo IG (2017) Unmasking the delusive appearance of negative frequency-dependent selection. Peer Community in Evolutionary Biology, 100024. 10.24072/pci.evolbiol.100024
- Brisson D. 2017. Negative frequency-dependent selection is frequently confounding. bioRxiv 113324, ver. 3 of 20th June 2017. doi: 10.1101/113324.

No, no editing (formatting) of the articles is carried out and articles are recommended without modification of their format. Unpublished versions of recommended preprint deposited in an open archive are not edited. We ask only that the authors of recommended preprints add a cover page to their preprint, together with a sentence at the beginning of their abstract stating that their preprint has been recommended by PCI Evol Biol – e.g. see https://www.biorxiv.org/content/biorxiv/early/2017/09/28/141127.full.pdf.

Yes, recommended preprints are indexed. Google Scholar indexes all sorts of documents (articles, books, reports, etc.), including preprints deposited in repositories such as arXiv, bioRxiv, and Hal. These platforms therefore record preprint citations in the same way as they record citations of articles published in journals. An author’s profile in Google Scholar would therefore take into account recommended articles, whether the articles concerned are preprints from repositories or articles published in journals.

Would scientific journals accept preprints with a PCI Evol Biol recommendation as valid citable references?

Most, if not all journals already accept the citation of articles not published in peer-reviewed journals (e.g. book chapters and reports). As the preprints recommended have been peer-reviewed, we see no reason why traditional journals would refuse to consider them valid.

Do scientific journals accept submission of preprint deposited in open archives?

More and more journals are accepting articles deposited as preprints in open archives for submission. See http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo/index.php.

First, increasing numbers of journals are accepting articles deposited as preprints in open archives for submission. See http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo/index.php.

Second, a preprint reviewed and recommended by PCI Evol Biol is a preprint with a guaranteed level of quality. It is not a published paper. There is, therefore, no reason for a journal to refuse the submission of recommended preprints, quite the opposite in fact.

Third, our list of recommenders includes numerous associate editors, editors and editors-in-chief of major evolutionary biology journals.

Fourth, the Editors-in-Chief of Ecology Letters (Tim Coulson), Evolution (Mohamed Noor), Oikos (Dries Bonte), Evolutionary Ecology (John Endler), Evolutionary Applications (Louis Bernatchez), Molecular Ecology (Loren Rieseberg), Journal of Biogeography (Peter Linder), BMC Evol Biol (Christopher Foote), Genetica (Pierre Capy & Juan Bouzat) and Journal of Evolutionary Biology (Wolf Blanckenhorn) have indicated they will consider submissions of recommended preprints and that they may use PCI reviews and recommendations for their own review processes, if appropriate.

The recommendation refers only to the version of the preprint that has been recommended.


 

COMMENTING ON ARTICLE RECOMMENDATIONS

Can I comment on recommendations and on the corresponding articles?

Yes, everyone, including authors and readers, can comment on recommendations. All comments are welcome, provided that they deal with the science, are signed and are respectful to the authors, the recommenders who made the recommendations and the other commentators. Comments considered as abusive can be notified to the Managing Board, which may decide to withdraw them.

Can I reply to a comment on recommendations?

Yes, everyone, including authors and readers, can comment on recommendations, comments, and the corresponding article. All comments are welcome, provided they deal with the science, are signed and respectful to the authors, the recommenders who made the recommendations and the other commentators. Replies to a comment not respecting these rules can be notified to the Managing Board, which may decide to withdraw them.

What if I disagree with a recommendation?

If a reader disagrees with a recommendation or with any comments on an article, he can write a comment. This comment will be published, provided that it is signed and is respectful to the authors, the recommenders who made the recommendations and the other commentators. Comments not respecting these rules can be notified to the Managing Board, which may decide to withdraw them.