Saturday, January 23, 2016

Credit for peer review

365: day 141 by Nick in exsilio, on Flickr
"365: day 141" (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) by Nick in exsilio
As researchers gain more visibility by publishing articles in open access journals and expand their networks through social media and research communities it's time the reviewers also received more public recognition. Peer review is the foundation of all scientific research but those who do the work get little reward for their efforts apart from a thank-you e-mail from the publisher. Being asked to review for a scientific journal is a considerable merit but it has so far been difficult to show publically. Reviewing is a demanding and time-consuming unpaid task often squeezed into reviewer's evenings and weekends. Can peer review be made more open and can reviewers get visible credit?

One solution to this that has been in operation for a few years now is called Publons. This is a community of over 50,000 reviewers who can register their verifiable peer review assignments and make their experience visible in their profiles (so far 281,239 reviews in 16,192 journals). Publons' aim is to allow members to:

Record, verify, and showcase your peer review contributions in a format you can include in job and funding applications (without breaking reviewer anonymity).

Most reviews are of course anonymous and cannot be published publically except when all parties agree and such cases can be read on Publons. Otherwise the service is based on the recognition e-mails from the publisher which are also verified in cooperation between Publons and the major publishers. Registered reviews can also have their profiles automatically updated if the review for a publication that is a Publons partner. The result is that reviewers have a verified profile that can be used in funding applications or when applying for a new position. You decide how your information is presented and the level of detail.

Services like this are giving long-awaited recognition to the vast amount of previously invisible work that lies behind every published article and even if there are still no financial rewards at least reviewers have reliable evidence of their expertise. 

Read more about Publons in an article from Nature, The scientists who get credit for peer review.

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