What are the benefits of open peer reviews on preprints, and why should researchers consider publishing their journal-invited reviews alongside preprints?
To answer these questions, ASAPbio Fellows Bianca Trovò, Nicolás Hinrichs, Saeed Shafiei Sabet, and Susana Henriques organized an interactive conversation about the recently-launched Publish Your Reviews initiative on July 19, 2022.
We heard from researchers who have adopted this practice as well as other stakeholders who support it, covering the benefits, potential pitfalls, and the practices that can make public preprint feedback a constructive and open scientific dialog.
ASAPbio Executive Director Jessica Polka kicked off the event with a presentation about the initiative, covering the benefits, sharing an example of a review posted on a preprint by Iris Young & ASAPbio Vice President James Fraser.
Following this, the Fellows engaged four panelists (Ashley Farley from the Gates Foundation, Alex Mendonça from SciELO, Ludo Waltman from CWTS, Leiden University, and Prachee Avasthi, Arcadia Science & ASAPbio President) in a discussion about the value of publishing reviews on preprints. Here are three things we learned from the conversation:
1. Publishing reviews makes reviewing more useful and gratifying
As co-organizer of the initiative, Ludo began publishing his reviews out of a desire to make peer review more useful. Ludo noted that knowing that his feedback will be publicly available and reusable makes him feel more motivated to complete the reviews.
2. Publishing reviews creates constructive dialog
Not only is publishing peer reviews good for the reviewer, but the dialog it creates can benefit authors and readers. Prachee highlighted the fact that in a public forum, authors have the opportunity to respond to comments and engage with the feedback received, and to do so as a two-way conversation with other peers; Alex noted that having public reviews available provides an educational opportunity for other researchers.
3. Funders can encourage transparency by supporting publishing reviews
Ashley spoke to the value of funders supporting open science by supporting the initiative, and highlighted that preprints open up new avenues to do post-publication review in different formats, beyond the journal review.
Prompted by questions from the audience, speakers explained why Publish Your Reviews focuses on preprints rather than published journal articles: readers and authors both benefit more from public conversations on works in progress. We also discussed rights retention for the review; while not necessary to allow a journal to reuse a published review, researchers can apply an open license to the review so that it is clear it can be reused. Ludo advised that reviewers could let editors know about their intention to post the review on the preprint, and also let the authors know that they have posted a review on their preprint, but he noted that seeking permission isn’t necessary, as posting a preprint publicly is an invitation for engagement.