Peer Community In Meta-Research: Community peer review

By Chris Hartgerink (Liberate Science, GmbH)

Introduction from BITSS: BITSS launched MetaArXiv (formerly BITSS Preprints) in 2017 as a preprint service where researchers could share and discover work focused on improving research transparency and reproducibility and other meta-scientific research. We recently teamed up with the Peer Community in (PCI) Meta-Research to give MetaArXiv authors the opportunity to have their preprints go through community review and receive useful feedback. Chris Hartgerink, the administrator of PCI Meta-Research, explains what community peer review is and how PCIs can help authors improve their papers and research plans!

Researchers now commonly share their manuscripts on preprint servers like MetaArxiv. By sharing our manuscripts (i.e., preprints) upon submission, researchers regain some modicum of control in the publishing landscape. We share on our terms, when we are ready and promote transparency, early feedback, and more.

Meta-researchers can now also start to re-imagine parts of peer review, by submitting our preprints and preregistrations to their Peer Community In (PCI) Meta-Research. There are ten other PCIs, including for Evolutionary Biology and Ecology (see the full list here).

PCI is a community-led (non-profit) reviewing platform. The reviewing process is similar to regular journals (see the figure below). You submit your work for review, and your peers inspect it and provide feedback. Recommenders (similar to editors) coordinate the review process for your preprint, and if it meets the quality standards, they provide a recommendation for the preprint. All reviews are made public (see an example here) and you can use the recommendation and reviews as part of your submission to a journal. PCI Meta-Research reviews are based on quality standards similar to PLOS ONE: We look for methodological issues and ensure the quality is high enough. Submissions that don’t meet minimum quality standards will not be considered, and PCI cannot guarantee all submissions will be advanced by a recommender (but we will do our best!).

PCI provides a peer-review process for preprints and preregistrations. PCI Meta-Research focuses on minimum quality standards (similar to PLOS ONE) and recommends all work that is up to the standards of science.

Like other PCIs, PCI Meta-Research allows for peer review of preprints, but also of preregistrations. We recognise that reviews are valuable not just for finished manuscripts, but also for intermittent stages in your work. Comparable to Registered Reports, you can submit your preregistration to PCI Meta-Research. Reviews will focus on ensuring and improving methodological rigor.

Sign up for PCI Meta-Research and submit your next MetaArxiv preprint to regain control of the peer review process. We especially encourage early-career researchers and/or those from marginalised communities (e.g., from low- and/or middle-income countries, black, indigenous, disabled, non-binary people) to submit their work for community review as a way to strengthen their journal submissions. PCI-recommended submissions have even become invited submissions in our sister communities (e.g., PCI Ecology) as a result of our recommendations.

If you have questions or are interested in participating as a reviewer or recommender, please send an email to Reviewers and recommenders are required to have some experience in meta-research of any kind. You can also follow us on Twitter; @PCI_MetaRes. We look forward to reviewing your work!

Chris Hartgerink is Executive Director of Liberate Science GmbH, a cooperative resetting research work. He was awarded his PhD in Methods and Statistics from Tilburg University (2020) for his work on building sustainable science. His main focus right now is resetting research publishing. He is the administrator of PCI Meta-Research.

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