Peer-trial vs. peer-review: the past and future of scientific publishing

Open Scholar is a small group of researchers who share the vision of a scholarly communication system organised and maintained by the research community without the involvement of intermediaries motivated by non-scientific interests.
After many years of discussions and experimentation, we are convinced that the transformation towards a more collaborative and efficient scholarly communication model requires, first and foremost, the will and dedication of the research community, but also the supportive infrastructure of the existing institutional repositories, open archives, and preprint servers. Our efforts as a group in the past years have focused on convincing our community of the need to complement open access repositories with overlay open review services to establish a transparent validation system as a superior alternative to the deeply-flawed editorial peer review.

Last week, our group published a new article where we extensively analyse our proposal for an alternative scientific validation and evaluation system that is already implemented on our multidisciplinary, free repository SJS. The article presents the details of the system (encompassing what we believe should be a “true” peer-review), and explains how it can evolve in parallel to current publication practices (that should be rather understood as a peer-trial process) with very little additional effort on behalf of scientific authors. Evidently, the article is open for reviews and comments on the SJS platform and we invite all interested peers to contribute to the debate.

A very similar peer review model is described in the user stories that outline the priority functionalities for next generation repositories, as identified by a working group of experts launched in April 2016 by the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR). The document presenting these user stories is expected to form the basis for a distributed, globally-networked infrastructure for scholarly communication. The first draft of this document was also published last week and is now open for public comments. We participated in this working group by offering our expertise in open peer review models, such as the one implemented on SJS, and on our Open Peer Review Module for institutional repositories, developed with the support of OpenAIRE.

Despite our limited resources and the voluntary nature of our commitment, we continue to do our best to transform scientific research from a meaningless and relentless publication hunt to a genuine, collaborative effort to engage in a dialogue with nature, better understand its secrets and use this knowledge for the benefit of humanity. We also collaborate with the Future of Research, a grassroots advocacy group for junior scientists based in the U.S., to try to empower junior scientists to practice more open science safely. Our working group is always open to new members interested in joining actively forces with us to continue developing our models and promoting them to the research community.

With warm regards,
— The OS team

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