Updating Peer Review

The post was contributed by Robin N. Sinn at Johns Hopkins University. It originally appeared in the Sheridan Libraries Blog.

Peer reviewed journals are the bedrock of the scholarly publishing system, ensuring that an article’s authors have used proper methods, cited previous work appropriately, and made logical and supported conclusions. The process of peer review is changing for several reasons:

In fact, this month will see the second annual Peer Review Week. This year’s theme is Recognition for Review and runs from September 19th through 25th. A recent Scholarly Kitchen post asked the Chefs about the future of peer review.

Below are a few of the groups trying to improve peer review.  In October 2015 ASERL hosted a webinar with representatives from three of these groups. You can watch the session recording or look at the slides from Peerage of Science, eLife, and Rubriq.

Shortening the Traditional Process

There is a concern that the peer review process takes too long. An editor makes a decision to send the article out for review, finds the reviewers, the review happens, comments are gathered and sent to the author, revision happens, resubmission… you get the picture. Lots of time can pass. A few groups are tightening up that process.

  • PLoS ONE was the first of a new kind of mega-journal that aims to publish articles that are methodologically and scientifically sound. Time is not spent on analyzing the importance of the article or the fit between journal and article. This cuts out the first part of the review process.
  • eLife shortens the review process by compiling revision requests from reviewers into one document and having only one reviewer examine resubmitted papers.

Peer Review Independent of Specific Journal

Instead of each journal wrangling their own set of peer reviewers and reviewing papers multiple times as they bounce around the system, a few groups are providing peer reviews that can be used by any journal.

  • At Rubriq the author pays for a review, then receives a report from 3 reviewers along with journal recommendations. The author can then revise the manuscript (or not) and submit the manuscript to a journal of their choice, including the Rubriq report as supplemental material if they wish.
  • Peerage of Science is supported by journals subscribing to their services. Reviewers have certain criteria to meet when they make their reviews, so their reviews are reviewed. This gives authors and journals a way to rate reviewers.  Once the reviews are done, articles are available to subscribing journals. Authors are able to make the reviews available to non-subscribing journals.

Post-Publication Peer Review

These groups post articles after they pass a set of minimum criteria. The peer review takes place online, in full view of readers.

Credit for Peer Reviewers

With the increasing number of research articles and journals available, there’s an increasing need for peer reviewers. Given that researchers spend their own time reading and reviewing, there’s an interest in giving peer reviewers credit for their work.

  • Publons assigns points for writing reviews of articles that are published. The reviews can be published, dependent on journal rules. Reviewers who write the most reviews receive awards and certificates. The idea is to ‘reward’ reviewers so that they do better work.
  • Other groups (F1000Research, ScienceOpen, among others) are giving peer reviewers the opportunity to sign their reviews, thus breaking the tradition of anonymous peer review.

I’m sure there are other peer review experimenters out there. If you know of one, please share with the ASERL SCIG at aserlscholcomm@aserl-lists.org .

Get ready for Open Access Week!

The semester has started. Labor Day has passed. And October is right around the corner. Are you ready for Open Access Week 2016?

Open Access Week is a yearly advocacy event near and dear to every Scholarly Communications Librarian’s heart. It is a dedicated, internationally-coordinated time where we can engage with our faculty and students about all things open access. But falling at the end of October, this event can be a challenge. By that time in the semester, our faculty and students are in the full swing of mid-terms, class projects, and research.

Luckily, there are plenty of resources to help you plan a successful Open Access Week at your institution.

Consider the theme

This year the theme for Open Access Week is “Open in Action”. Participants and stakeholders are encouraged to take concrete steps in support of making research more openly available. This could mean hosting a “deposit-a-thon” in your library, asking students and faculty to deposit a pre-print in your institutional repository. It could also mean a series of blog posts interviewing the open access stakeholders at your campus about their experience with open access in action.

Every campus is different and every community engages differently with this topic. Think about what type of events work best at your campus and consider how this year’s theme might fit.

Leverage the International Community

Still lost for ideas? The Open Access Week website is here to help! SPARC has developed the http://www.openaccessweek.org/ website to provide opportunities for community engagement. On the site, Open Access Week coordinators from around the globe can share their previous successes, challenges, and ideas to help others create effective events.  The site also offers a plethora of resources and media, including photos, videos, and Creative Commons Licensed downloadable media to help you market events on your campus.

Don’t forget about ASERL

Last September, ASERL hosted a great webinar on “Tips & Tricks for Successful Open Access Week Programming”. Presenters from six ASERL member libraries provided insights into what has and has not worked at their respective campuses over the years. As you get ready for this year’s Open Access Week, don’t forget to check out what your ASERL peers recommend — both the good, and the not-so-good!

Share your thoughts with us!

Once you’ve considered what may work at your institution, let us know what you’re thinking!
Or if you’re still testing out ideas, feel free to test them out with us! Email your questions, concerns, or ideas to the Scholarly Communications Interest Group at aserlscholcomm@aserl-lists.org.

Let’s Learn Together!

Did you know that ASERL frequently offers high quality, timely topic webinars to its members for free? I bet you did – but that doesn’t mean a friendly reminder of all that’s on tap for this fall isn’t in order!

Webinar topics come from all different sources. John Burger, Director of ASERL, and the Scholarly Communication Interest Group co-chairs, Melanie Kolawski and Molly Keener, brainstorm ideas that might be of interest or importance to our members, looking to conference presentations, social media conversations, professional literature, and colleagues for inspiration. We welcome suggestions from our ASERL colleagues, either to share exciting work you are pursuing, or to learn more about a topic of interest to you. So don’t be shy about sharing your ideas!

If your semester schedule is anything like mine, it is filling up fast. Knowing about all the great webinars from ASERL, and specifically about those with a scholcomm focus, is critical for ensuring that I don’t miss out on these upcoming learning opportunities.

This fall’s lineup of Scholarly Communication-focused webinars:

Findings from Ithaka S+R’s “Organizing the Work of the Research Library”
September 19, 2016, 2pm ET / 1pm Central Time
REGISTER:  https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8976406708938452737

Overview of Collabra and Luminos from University of California Press
September 29, 2016, 2pm ET / 1pm Central Time
REGISTER:  https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/305051512376248090

What is ACI Scholarly Blog Index?
October 7, 2016, 2 pm ET / 1pm Central Time
REGISTER:  https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6935773600925884674

Overview of Open Textbook Network
November 10, 2016, 2pm ET / 1pm Central Time
REGISTER:  https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3012235626330813954

For a full lineup of all ASERL webinars, see the list on the aserl.org homepage. And if you have an idea for a webinar topic, let me know at keenerm@wfu.edu!

Here’s to a great fall semester, y’all!

ASERL’S New Scholarly Communications Interest Group Blog!

Welcome to the ASERL Scholarly Communications Interest Group Blog!

Created by the ASERL Scholarly Communications Interest Group (SCIG), this new blog initiative offers ASERL members the opportunity to share exciting ideas and timely information about all things scholarly communication. The blog serves as an information conduit as well as a space for sharing feedback on the outcomes of our respective institutional initiatives. We hope that the blog will serve as a virtual support system for our members, highlighting what does and doesn’t work in a safe and helpful space.

So how does this whole “blog thing” work?

To get the ball rolling and ensure we have a diversity of content, the SCIG Co-chairs–Melanie Kowalski (Emory) and Molly Keener (Wake Forest)–and the ASERL Executive Director, John Burger, have recruited a team of regular contributors from ASERL institutions. Collectively, the team has 30-plus years of expertise in scholarly communications that they are excited to share with their ASERL colleagues. The team will bring you posts about ASERL initiatives, including upcoming webinars and events, as well as other relevant topics, events, and undertakings. You’ll meet the team as they begin blogging, so stayed tuned!

In addition to our wonderful team of contributors, the SCIG Co-Chairs hope to hear from you! We welcome guest contributions from members of the ASERL communities. For more information on getting involved, please email the blogging team at scholcomm-bloggers@aserl-lists.org.

We need YOU to tell us what you want.

This blog has been created by your colleagues just for you. So tell us what you want to hear! Are there particular topics you’re interested in? Are you considering a new initiative but would like to know what others have tried? Do you have ideas of improvement in the blog that you’d like to share? Send all your great ideas for topics and feedback to scholcomm-bloggers@aserl-lists.org.

Seeking Schol-Comm co-chair!

HELP WANTED:  ASERL needs a new Schol-Comm co-chair!

ASERL is seeking a new Co-Chair to help lead the Scholarly Communications Interest Group for ASERL, as Robin Sinn’s term will expire on June 30th.  The new Co-Chair will serve a two-year term beginning July 2016.  He/she will work with the ongoing Co-Chair Melanie Kowalski (Emory) and ASERL’s Executive Director (John Burger) to establish priorities for the coming year and review emerging issues/opportunities as they arise.

Desired skills/expertise
*  Currently employed at an ASERL library
* Effective at fostering a sense of community across remote locations
*  Very current on emerging issues impacting Scholarly Communications and Research Libraries
*  Availability to contribute 2 – 3 hours per month to this volunteer activity.
*  Willing to contact people inside/outside ASERL to serve as webinar speakers
*  Familiarity with basic webpage editing tools (WordPress) to help monitor/maintain the ScholComm webpage

NOTE:  We are also planning to host a second Scholarly Communications Unconference (“SCUNC”) meeting next year, so experience with such events would be helpful.

Anyone interested in working with Melanie and me on this initiative are asked to submit their names and brief professional background to John Burger (jburger@aserl.org) by May 31, 2016.  Self-nominations are encouraged. The final selection will be made by the ASERL Board of Directors.