Funders Support Use of Reviewed Preprints in Research Assessment

eLife’s new publishing model has sparked vigorous discussion about the role of editors in selecting research articles for publication. In October, the organisation announced that it is eliminating accept/reject decisions after peer review and instead focusing on preprint review and assessment.

In support, a group of nine funders have committed to including reviewed preprints in the evaluation process, even if they lack the traditional stamp of approval from journal editors. Among these supporters are the Gates Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, and Wellcome.


Supporting organisations:

Cambridge University Libraries
Champalimaud Foundation
cOAlition S
Gates Foundation
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation
Research Libraries UK
Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute

eLife Reviewed Preprints: Interview with Fiona Hutton

“To better understand what this change means for authors and reviewers, Upstream editor Martin Fenner asked Fiona Hutton, eLife’s Head of Publishing, a few questions….

What has been the feedback so far? We have had a huge amount of positive support for this model, from authors, funders, institutions and open science advocates. Many believe that although many organisations signed DORA, there has been a lack of movement and innovation in making those promises a reality and they see what we are doing as ground-breaking. Many are frustrated at the inertia in the current system and, at almost every open science event, everyone says the system is broken and we need an alternative. What we are doing at eLife is creating an alternative publishing model and providing an alternative output that can be used in research assessment. We are convinced that others will take up this model over time. Of course, we also know the current system is ingrained and that change can be difficult and cannot happen without strong support – we are in the fortunate position where our board is made up of funders that want the system to change and support eLife to lead that change. We also acknowledge that some people do not like or do not agree with the model and do not see the benefit of it. Instead of making judgements about a research paper based on the journal it was published in, we are asking the community to consider the substance of our reviews and editorial judgement, and that is a considerable step-change. It is the responsibility of eLife to show that the model can work and that there is a huge amount of value in it – and that’s where our priorities will be over the coming months….”

HHMI Statement in Support of eLife and Open Science Innovation | HHMI

“The journal eLife recently announced a new scientific publishing model. Starting in January 2023, eLife will no longer make accept/reject decisions after peer review. Instead, every preprint that eLife sends for peer review will be published on eLife’s website as a “Reviewed Preprint” together with an eLife assessment, public reviews, and a response from the authors. This means that eLife authors – not editors – will decide whether and with what revisions an eLife article will be published.

HHMI enthusiastically supports eLife’s new model. As one of the founding members of eLife that continues to provide financial support, we stand with scientific leaders who recognize that publishing must change, and that now is the time.  If we’re to fulfill the public promise of science – new knowledge to benefit all – we need to share research, including scholarly peer reviews, openly. We need to innovate in ways that prioritize research progress and quality of peer review over journal selectivity and prestige. We need to create systems that reward scientists for making choices for the greater good….”

Recognizing Preprint Peer Review | Janelia Research Campus

“Public review of preprints offers many benefits. It enables reviewers to focus on the science itself, allows authors to engage in constructive dialog with reviewers, and provides context on preprints for readers. cOAlition S and EMBO Postdoctoral Fellowships have recently announced that they recognize peer-reviewed preprints as peer-reviewed publications, and some journals are accepting reviews from services such as Peer Community In and Review Commons.

Sponsored by HHMI, ASAPbio, and EMBO, the goals of this meeting are to promote community consensus and support for preprint peer review and to create funder, institutional, and journal policies that recognize both preprints with reviews, and reviews of preprints.

We invite the entire scientific community to engage with us virtually by watching the talks, asking questions and contributing to group discussions. SIGN UP to to receive updates about this meeting, including a detailed agenda when available and the Zoom link to join.”

PREreview and eLife welcome Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s support to boost community engagement in public preprint review | For the press | eLife

“PREreview and eLife are pleased to announce today that the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) has awarded a grant to the non-profit organisations. The investment will boost their efforts to enable more diverse communities of researchers to participate in the open peer review of preprints.

PREreview and eLife have been partners for more than a year. Their collaboration involves improving technology and research culture to support a more open and participatory ecosystem for the public review of preprints. They are currently working to enhance PREreview’s integration into Sciety – a website developed by a team within eLife for users to explore and curate evaluated preprints – and opening up new opportunities for more researchers to participate in public preprint review.

With backing from CZI, the organisations are in a strong position to achieve two key goals over the next two years. The first is to develop PREreview’s software and engagement strategies to allow new communities to solicit and create expert feedback on preprints. The second is to help enable reviewing organisations and societies to implement their own flavours of the ‘publish, review, curate’ model that PREreview and Sciety are showcasing, by building systems that facilitate and display expert reviews and curated lists….”

OSF Preprints | Sunlight not shadows: Double-anonymized peer review is not the progressive answer to status bias

Abstract:  A response to the study by Huber et al. (1) studying status bias in journal peer review. We argue that double-anonymized peer review is not a progressive solution to this issue and opt for more open and collaborative publishing practices instead.


Kramer et al. (2022) Preprints and open preprint review: a workshop on innovations in scholarly publishing | Upstream

by Bianca Kramer, Ludo Waltman, Jeroen Sondervan, and Jeroen Bosman

Researchers, librarians, policy makers, and practitioners often complain about the scholarly publishing system, but the system also offers exciting opportunities to contribute to innovations in the way academic findings are disseminated and evaluated. At the Dutch Open Science Festival, which took place at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam on September 1st 2022, we organized one of the ‘community-led’ workshops to discuss some of these developments, focusing on preprints and open preprint review. Participants discussed the opportunities offered by these innovations, and reflected on ways in which these innovations may complement, or perhaps even replace, traditional journal publishing practices.

Killing eLife’s selectivity reputation hurts science | Times Higher Education (THE)

“Now, under different leadership, eLife is changing. Most importantly, eLife leaders are eschewing the traditional binary “accept versus reject” publication decision model in favour of an offer to publish every manuscript that can get past a cursory editorial screen (although there is significant uncertainty about how much initial gatekeeping editors will do). Manuscripts will be posted online alongside reviewer critiques and an editor’s summary of them. A set of standard buzzwords in bold typeface, such as “important”, “solid” and “inadequate”, that effectively amount to a grading system, will be included in the editor’s summary.

Noticeably absent from the list of standard buzzwords are descriptors that come anywhere close to conveying the sentiment “should be rejected”. Authors will decide whether and how they respond to reviewer comments – additional rounds of review can ensue, at the author’s discretion. In essence, eLife will offer to publish manuscripts with an “inadequate” grade, that editors and reviewers would have previously rejected.

It’s an experimental approach to scientific publishing that has some merits and some supporters. However, it is hard for me to see the changes at eLife as anything other than its demise….”

eLife’s New Model: Changing the way you share your research | Inside eLife | eLife

“From next year, we will no longer make accept/reject decisions at the end of the peer-review process; rather, all papers that have been peer-reviewed will be published on the eLife website as Reviewed Preprints, accompanied by an eLife assessment and public reviews. The authors will also be able to include a response to the assessment and reviews.

The decision on what to do next will then entirely be in the hands of the author; whether that’s to revise and resubmit, or to declare it as the final Version of Record.

Learn more about the changes we’re making and why….”

Journal seeks to upend scientific publishing by only reviewing—not accepting—manuscripts | Science | AAAS

“eLife, the upstart publisher that has campaigned to end what it calls scientific journals’ counterproductive gatekeeping of research, today announced a new approach to hasten that outcome: It will cease accepting or rejecting manuscripts for publication, instead offering only peer reviews of selected manuscripts.

Until now, eLife, a nonprofit, online-only publication that focuses on the life and medical sciences, has charged authors $3000 if it accepts a manuscript. Anyone can then read the published online paper for free, instead of having to buy their way past a paywall.

Under the new approach, eLife will charge authors whose submitted manuscripts are invited to undergo peer review $2000 for that service. Regardless of whether the critiques are positive or negative, the manuscript and its associated, consensus peer-review statement will be posted online and be free to read. If the author revises the paper to address the comments, eLife will post the revised version….”

eLife ends reviewers’ ‘accept or reject’ role | Times Higher Education (THE)

“Open access publisher eLife has announced it will no longer make accept or reject decisions following peer review.

From the end of January, eLife will instead publish every paper it reviews as a “reviewed preprint”, which it describes as “a new type of research output that combines the manuscript with eLife’s detailed peer reviews and a concise assessment of the significance of the findings and quality of the evidence”.

The move by the biomedical and life sciences publisher, which was founded in 2012 by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Max Planck Society and the Wellcome Trust as a not-for-profit enterprise, follows its shift last year to only reviewing papers already published as a preprint.

Michael Eisen, eLife’s editor-in-chief, said the latest move was designed to focus reviewers’ attention on the content of research rather than a yes-no decision….”

Transparent peer review for all | Nature Communications

“Starting in 2016, we have offered authors the option to publish the comments received from the reviewers and their responses alongside the paper. As we believe that transparency strengthens the quality of peer review, we are now moving to publish the exchanges between authors and reviewers for all research articles submitted from November 2022 onward. Referees will still have the option to remain completely anonymous, to sign their reports, and/or to choose to be acknowledged by name as part of our reviewer recognition scheme….”

Panel: Trends in Peer Review of Open Access Preprints

“Speed of research is a major feature of open access preprint platforms like arXiv – formal peer review can follow later after rapid distribution of results. However, as submissions to arXiv and other preprint servers have grown, many researchers are seeking new avenues for community feedback and peer review. At this panel discussion”, leaders in preprints and peer review will discuss current trends in virtual overlay journals, open peer reviews, and more.


Motivating and Maintaining Ethics, Equity, Effectiveness, Efficiency, and Expertise in Peer Review

Abstract:  Scientists who engage in science and the scientific endeavor should seek truth with conviction of morals and commitment to ethics. While the number of publications continues to increase, the number of retractions has increased at a faster rate. Journals publish fraudulent research papers despite claims of peer review and adherence to publishing ethics. Nevertheless, appropriate ethical peer review will remain a gatekeeper when selecting research manuscripts in scholarly publishing and approving research applications for grant funding. However, this peer review must become more open, fair, transparent, equitable, and just with new recommendations and guidelines for reproducible and accountable reviews that support and promote fair citation and citational justice. We should engineer this new peer-review process with modern informatics technology and information science to provide and defend better safeguards for truth and integrity, to clarify and maintain the provenance of information and ideas, and to rebuild and restore trust in scholarly research institutions. Indeed, this new approach will be necessary in the current post-truth era to counter the ease and speed with which mis-information, dis-information, anti-information, caco-information, and mal-information spread through the internet, web, news, and social media. The most important question for application of new peer-review methods to these information wars should be ‘Who does what when?’ in support of reproducible and accountable reviews. Who refers to the authors, reviewers, editors, and publishers as participants in the review process. What refers to disclosure of the participants’ identities, the material content of author manuscripts and reviewer commentaries, and other communications between authors and reviewers. When refers to tracking the sequential points in time for which disclosure of whose identity, which content, and which communication at which step of the peer-review process for which audience of readers and reviewers. We believe that quality peer review, and peer review of peer review, must be motivated and maintained by elevating their status and prestige to an art and a science. Both peer review itself and peer review analyses of peer reviews should be incentivised by publishing peer reviews as citable references separately from the research report reviewed while crossreferenced and crosslinked to the report reviewed.


Sciety welcomes ASAPbio–SciELO Preprints crowd review for the evaluation of Brazilian-Portuguese preprints | For the press | eLife

Sciety is pleased to announce the first non-English group to bring open review and curation to the platform: ASAPbio–SciELO Preprints crowd review. Based in Brazil, the group reviews preprints relating to infectious disease research that are posted on the SciELO Preprints server in Brazilian Portuguese.