PeerJ – Innovating Scholarly Publishing

monkeySubmitHowAfter only a year of existence, the open access publisher PeerJ has already made a splash in the world of scholarly publishing. PeerJ’s two publications, the academic journal PeerJ and pre-print server PeerJ PrePrints, both cater to the biological and medical sciences. Founded by Peter Binfield, Ph.D., and Jason Hoyt, Ph.D., and supported by Tim O’Reilly’s foundation, PeerJ aims to bring down the costs of scholarly, open access publishing and to improve the publishing experience.

What makes PeerJ so innovative is, well, just about everything. The highlights:

  • Affordability. Individuals may buy a one-time lifetime membership for as low as $99 to publish a single paper in PeerJ per year, or up to $299 for unlimited papers. Each author (up to twelve authors) on an article must have a PeerJ membership.
  • Reciprocity & incentive. Members must contribute at least one review per year as a term of the lifetime membership, and to avoid paying again to renew the membership. A review is either an informal comment on a published article or preprint, or an invited formal review of an article submission.
  • Preprints. Members may submit their work to PeerJ PrePrints and receive comments and make edits in advance of a formal PeerJ submission.
  • Transparency. PeerJ encourages reviewers to identify themselves, and authors may post the full review history alongside their published article (see an example). An early report reveals that 40% of reviewers choose to reveal their name, and 80% of authors make their reviews public.
  • Quick turnaround.  PeerJ‘s peer review process judges submissions solely on scientific and methodological validity, not on perceived impact (similar to PLOS ONE‘s method).
  • Articles are published as soon as they are ready, and papers can be of unlimited extent.
  • Article-level metrics (ALM). A growing trend is to track and display how many times an article is viewed, downloaded, and shared on social networks. PeerJ uses a number of these types of altmetrics to contribute to the story of  each paper’s impact. PLOS ONE pioneered ALM use; Nature started providing them in 2012.

With its first articles published February 12, 2013, PeerJ is now up to 90 articles. The board of Academic Editors is impressive, numbering over 800, and includes representatives from UCSF as well as five Nobel Laureates.

PeerJ builds on PLOS’ innovations, which is no small wonder given Peter Binfield’s tenure at PLOS as the publisher of PLOS ONE. Co-founder Jason Hoyt led the growth of the enormously popular scholarly sharing site Mendeley.

Peter Binfield presented on a panel at UCSF on June 17. See the presentation slides here.


About Anneliese

Assistant Director for Scholarly Communications & Collections
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