Portable Peer review: the new efficiency in publishing?

Peer review is perhaps the most critical but difficult step in publishing a research article in any journal. In the academic world, a publication without peer review is generally looked down upon and all major reputed journals follow peer review. Therefore, every author wants to get their research article published in such journals.

However, the entire peer-review process is extremely tedious and time-consuming. It often takes months for reviewers to send their reviews, which is followed by a prolonged process of editing by the author for resubmission; and this cycle continues. In the process, the publication gets delayed, authors may decide to stop pursuing one journal and shift to another journal, only to start the entire process all over again. Many journal editors reject most articles at the initial stage without even sending them for peer review only to avoid the hassle.

To get over this issue, certain journals combined to initiate what was called portable peer review. Portable peer review is a system where an author can resubmit one article manuscript to another publisher while sharing the peer review received from the first journal. Under this mechanism, the second journal acknowledges the review from the first incidence and takes up the process thereon, instead of starting the entire edit and review process from scratch.

There are several businesses that tried to specialize in portable peer review by offering a centralized reviewing service for both authors and publishers. These certified reviews could then be used by authors to apply to different publishers. Publishers too were expected to subscribe to such third-party review services for efficiency.

The initiative that has been active for quite some years has often received mixed responses. Following the initial optimism, the entire process did have very limited off-take. Besides the challenges with revenue models of some of these third-party review services leading to their failure, the biggest challenge for the system was that authors were often not comfortable to share harsh or critical reviews from one journal with another. More often than not, authors shift journals as they are not happy with their reviews; and shift to another journal only for a fresh and more optimistic second chance.

However, following the COVID related challenges, portable peer review seems to be gaining ground. The recently evolved C19 Rapid Review Initiative in medical sciences has received a positive response with nearly 2k reviewers signing up as rapid reviewers from more than 80 countries. The initiative started by Hindawi, the Royal Society, PLOS is now endorsed by SSRN, AfricArxiv, and Research on Research Institute (RoRI).UCL Press, Springer Nature, MIT Press, and Cambridge University Press joined the collaboration with a number of their titles, increasing the original group of nine publishers and organizations to 20 backings the C19 Rapid Review project.

While much of the new drive was necessitated by the need for finding a fast cure for COVID, this drive may change the fortunes of portable peer review in the future.

Is Open Access Right for your Research Article?

The most crucial step in research involves the selection of an appropriate journal for an article. The research must be published in the most suitable journal for reaching the target audience with the desired impact. However, it becomes difficult for some researchers to make the right choice while selecting a journal. Open access is one of the primary reasons for confusion among researchers.

Open access is a publishing model for scholarly publication that makes research data available to readers at no cost, as opposed to the traditional subscription model in which the readers can access the research data only by paying a subscription fee.

As there are many factors associated with the selection of publication methods, open access is changing the landscape of the research industry and has focused on the principle purpose of scholarly publishing of “spreading knowledge without any barrier”.

Advantages of publishing your research in Open Access Journals

  1. Widest possible audience

Open Access generates more recognition for the researcher’s work and their university and ultimately results in more citations for their work. Open Access means improved access to research for all.

  1. Article promotion through the publisher and social media

Open Access journals promote the published articles through free email content alerts, homepage and subject page features, and other promotional activities. They are circulated through social media platforms like ResearchGate, Linkedin, Twitter, etc.

  1. More freedom

The researchers can freely share their research articles with who they choose while having control over how others reuse their work. They can themselves share the abstract and whole article PDF through the DOIs and URL of the journal webpage.

  1. Text mining

Open Access gives the readers barrier-free access to the literature they need for their research, unconstrained by the subscription charges for access. While a researcher design research requires understanding and reading relevant research articles. Hence, open access makes it possible to get access to these requirements. Therefore, open access benefits both the author and readers.

  1. Speed

Publishing in any peer-reviewed journal involves some degree of a delay from submission to acceptance and finally to publication. Generally, an Open Access journal receives a final decision within 3-4 weeks which makes it attractive for the authors. These journals also provide immediate free access and download options after acceptance by the journals.

Though Open access is more advantageous than a traditional approach, there is always a concern among the authors about the perceived quality of Open Access publications. Many argue that open access journals do not hold the same reputation as traditional journals. However, in the last decade, most of the reputed publishers have now opted for Open Access policy (fully open or hybrid) for their journals.

Hence, it is on the author’s part to decide whether to go for an Open Access option or not as both forms have different advantages loaded in their favor.