The traditional forms of scientific publishing and peer review do not live up to all demands of efficient communication and quality assurance in today’s highly diverse and rapidly evolving world of science.
They need to be advanced and complemented by interactive and transparent forms of review, publication, and discussion that are open to the scientific community and to the public.
The advantages of open access, public peer review, and interactive discussion can be efficiently and flexibly combined with the strengths of traditional scientific peer review. Since 2001 the benefits and viability of this approach are clearly demonstrated by the highly successful interactive open access journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP, www.atmos-chem-phys.net) and a growing number of sister journals launched and operated by the European Geosciences Union (EGU, www.egu.eu) and the open access publisher Copernicus (www.copernicus.org).
The interactive open access journals are practicing an integrative multi-stage process of publication and peer review combined with interactive public discussion, which effectively resolves the dilemma between rapid scientific exchange and thorough quality assurance.
Key features and achievements of this approach are: top quality and impact, efficient self-regulation and low rejection rates, high attractivity and rapid growth, low costs, and financial sustainability.
In fact, ACP and the EGU interactive open access sister journals are by most if not all standards more successful than comparable scientific journals with traditional or alternative forms of peer review (editorial statistics, publication statistics, citation statistics, economic costs, and sustainability).
The high efficiency and predictive validity of multi-stage open peer review have been confirmed in a series of dedicated studies by evaluation experts from the social sciences, and the same or similar concepts have recently also been adopted in other disciplines, including the life sciences and economics.
Multi-stage open peer review can be flexibly adjusted to the needs and peculiarities of different scientific communities. Due to the flexibility and compatibility with traditional structures of scientific publishing and peer review, the multi-stage open peer review concept enables efficient evolution in scientific communication and quality assurance.
It has the potential for swift replacement of hidden peer review as the standard of scientific quality assurance, and it provides a basis for open evaluation in science. »