#PeerRevWk17 Update: Peer Review Week goes Transparent and Interactive

Last week marked peer review week, an event we’ve followed since the inaugural event in 2015 (which you can see from our previous blog). Like next months Open Access Week, this is a great opportunity to throw some light on what goes on “under the hood” in academic publishing, as well as encourage innovation and uptake of more open and transparent research practices. Appropriately, the theme this year was “Transparency in Review”, which as big open peer review users and advocates is a topic we have a lot of experience and interest in. The event has grown in scope and the number of events, and this year we contributed and participated in a few of these.

On the first day of #PeerRevWk17 we co-hosted a webinar discussing preprints and open peer Review with our friends at AcademicKarma. Featuring AcademicKarma founder (and GigaScience Editorial Board Member) Lachlan Coin, GigaScience author and open peer review advocate Chris Gorgolewski, and ASAPBio Ambassador and pre-print advocate Prachee Avasthi. We are also big advocates of pre-prints, recently implementing bioRxiv integration (see the blog), and this has interesting implications when combined with open peer review (which we first discovered during our Assemblathon2 paper “meta” peer review process). This is all discussed in our webinar, and being an interactive hangout we had a number of participants join us, including OA advocate Graham Steel and an uninvited six legged visitor that surprised Scott during his segment. You can watch the archived webinar here.

The Sentinels of Peer Review
As readers of this blog should know, we were one of the first journals to integrate with Publons to give our peer reviewers credit for their hard work (see the Q&A with Andrew Preston of Publons demonstrating this). Publons has gone from strength to strength, recently crossing the million peer review threshold as well as being acquired by Web of Science. It was great that our Editor, Nicole, was invited to be one of seven judges for the inaugural Publons Sentinel Award for outstanding advocacy, innovation or contribution to scholarly peer review.

From a great shortlist of nominees, it has been formally announced today that Irene Hames is the recipient of the Sentinel Award. We would like to extend our congratulations to Irene, who has been a phenomenal servant to research ethics and peer review over an esteemed career; with further congratulations to runner up, Michèle B. Nuijten and StatCheck.

It was wonderful to see GigaScience peer reviewers and co-nominees Kyle Martin and Gareth Fraser placed fourth overall. Both were nominated for their co-authored open peer review on the paper titled “The genome of the largest bony fish, ocean sunfish (Mola mola), provides insights into its fast growth rate”. Their enormous and detailed peer review sets an excellent example of peer review mentorship that resulted in an exceptional and constructive open peer review report – further setting an example for the research community about how valuable a considered and detailed peer review can be for advancing the state of the art.

Transparency in Review in Practice
Since our launch five years ago it has been great to see these developments in peer review and we expect to see the update of open peer review, and new innovations and platforms in this area continue at this rapid pace. Our latest experiment has been in integrating open peer review and pre-prints in a conference track we are organising next month at BGI’s ICG12 conference (see blog). Being a track focussing on cutting-edge research, we wanted to showcase the most cutting-edge platforms in scholarly communication in the process, and all submissions have been submitted as pre-prints in bioRxiv and have been peer-reviewed openly in a special ICG12 channel of the AcademicKarma peer review platform. We’ve now reviewed all of the entries, and the judges are currently assessing which will win the cash prizes. You can inspect all the submissions and transparent review process from the ICG12 AcademicKarma page, and there is still time to provide feedback on the papers. Watch this space to see the results very shortly.