DOAJ has approximately 100 volunteers carrying out important reviewing work for it. These volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds within academia, journal publishing or from libraries. DOAJ relies on these volunteers to keep applications flowing through the system.
In the first of a new series, we are highlighting our volunteers’ skills and interests which are connected to scholarly publishing. This is a guest post by Alessandro Pierno, DOAJ Associate Editor and Head of the Editorial Board for ReviewerCredits.
Creating value for peer review. Why not?
The peer review process is the cornerstone of scientific communication and should be considered as a key performance indicator (KPI) for scientists given the fact that, by its nature, the task demands time, knowledge and professionalism.
Still, lack of recognition for the peer reviewing work is an unsolved issue which certainly contributes to the shortage of scientists accepting the task. At the same time, with the growth of open access and the “pay to publish” model, journals need to prove the reliability and trustworthiness of their peer review process. It is clear that reviewers, journals and publishers would greatly benefit from an efficient system, rewarding reviewers and validating journals. These considerations triggered a growing interest with companies like ORCID and Publons which started offering authors the opportunity to add reviews that they had performed to their scientific profile. Going one step further, we think that adding a tangible benefit to the peer reviewing work would represent the real game-changer in the field.
The ReviewerCredits solution
ReviewerCredits.com (RC) keeps a verified history of all reviews performed by each registered reviewer, and – for each verified review – assigns a number of credits, which can be used in a “virtual store” representing, for the first time ever, a tangible benefit. After completing the review of a scientific paper, reviewers log in to the portal and enter a completed review claim for any journal (whether registered with RC or not). RC verifies that the review has been performed by asking a confirmation from the journal’s editorial office. This step is critical in order to create a reliable and traceable history of activity performed. The review is added to the scientist’s personal account earning a variable number of “credits”.
Furthermore, journals using PKP’s Open Journal Systems for article submission and review can now integrate a free plugin which allows a direct transfer of the claim to the RC platform.
Finally, RC has the ability to add to the author profile any talk delivered during scientific conferences, complementing the information available on the author.
What is unique in ReviewerCredits?
There are three major assets that make ReviewerCredits really unique:
(a) all reviews claimed must be certified by the Journal Editor and so 100% of the data are double checked and there is no room for inaccuracy or improper claims;
(b) performing reviews means accruing credits that can be exchanged for benefits across a number of journals and services;
(c) conference talks can be added to the author profile.
What are the benefits?
The first advantage is that registered scientists will be able to record in one single place all their certified reviews, as well as conference activity. A PDF certificate can be downloaded at any time and will list all the activity performed in chronological order. Additionally, as RC assigns virtual credits, they can use their credits to access selected, discounted services, specifically tailored for authors.
Registered journals benefit from transparency and higher engagement from their reviewers. By rewarding reviewers on behalf of journals, RC creates value for the work they perform, thus helping to motivate them and contributing to reducing the burden on journal Editors. Journals can take an active part in the process supported by RC registering their journal and encouraging their peer reviewers to record their completed reviews.
RC provides a valuable qualifier for a journal by documenting that proper peer review is performed before acceptance of manuscripts. This is particularly relevant at a time when the explosive growth of low quality or questionable journals (journals who accept any manuscript, independently of their quality, for a fee and provide little or no peer review) is making journal selection very difficult for authors outside the top indexed journals.
In RC the peer review activity performed by each journal is clearly visible to all and can be shared with a PDF certificate, listing all confirmed reviews performed on behalf of the journal. This is a huge asset for journals wanting to be transparent and it does not affect the confidentiality of review comments.
In conclusion, the topic of recognition of peer review has finally reached the spotlight due to the initiatives of Orcid, Publons and others recently highlighted by Peer Review Week. In this evolving scenario reviewercredits.com can contribute to creating real value for peer reviewers.
ReviewerCredits is a spin-off company endorsed by the University of Milan-Bicocca, launched in 2016. Its core business is the development, maintenance and upgrade of an online platform which has the purpose of certifying peer reviews and conference talks. ReviewerCredits is listed as an innovative startup company in the Italian company register. It was co-founded by two academic researchers, Giacomo Bellani, and Robert Fruscio with a growing team of experts in digital entrepreneurship and STM publishing (Veronica Mariani, Alessandro Pierno, Lucia Steele and Giulio Zuanetti).