A Proposed Currency System for Academic Peer Review Payments Using the BlockChain Technology

Author : Michael Spearpoint

Peer review of scholarly papers is seen to be a critical step in the publication of high quality outputs in reputable journals.

However, it appears that there are few incentives for researchers to agree to conduct suitable reviews in a timely fashion and in some cases unscrupulous practices are occurring as part of the production of academic research output. Innovations in internet-based technologies mean that there are ways in which some of the challenges can be addressed.

In particular, this paper proposes a new currency system using the BlockChain as its basis that provides a number of solutions. Potential benefits and problems of using the technology are discussed in the paper and these will need further investigation should the idea develop further.

Ultimately, the currency could be used as an alternative publication metric for authors, institutions and journals.

URL : A Proposed Currency System for Academic Peer Review Payments Using the BlockChain Technology

Alternative location : http://www.mdpi.com/2304-6775/5/3/19

The false academy: predatory publishing in science and bioethics

Authors : Stefan Eriksson, Gert Helgesson

This paper describes and discusses the phenomenon ‘predatory publishing’, in relation to both academic journals and books, and suggests a list of characteristics by which to identify predatory journals. It also raises the question whether traditional publishing houses have accompanied rogue publishers upon this path.

It is noted that bioethics as a discipline does not stand unaffected by this trend. Towards the end of the paper it is discussed what can and should be done to eliminate or reduce the effects of this development.

The paper concludes that predatory publishing is a growing phenomenon that has the potential to greatly affect both bioethics and science at large.

Publishing papers and books for profit, without any genuine concern for content, but with the pretence of applying authentic academic procedures of critical scrutiny, brings about a worrying erosion of trust in scientific publishing.

URL : The false academy: predatory publishing in science and bioethics

DOI :10.1007/s11019-016-9740-3

Global Data Quality Assessment and the Situated Nature of “Best” Research Practices in Biology

Author : Sabina Leonelli

This paper reflects on the relation between international debates around data quality assessment and the diversity characterising research practices, goals and environments within the life sciences.

Since the emergence of molecular approaches, many biologists have focused their research, and related methods and instruments for data production, on the study of genes and genomes.

While this trend is now shifting, prominent institutions and companies with stakes in molecular biology continue to set standards for what counts as ‘good science’ worldwide, resulting in the use of specific data production technologies as proxy for assessing data quality.

This is problematic considering (1) the variability in research cultures, goals and the very characteristics of biological systems, which can give rise to countless different approaches to knowledge production; and (2) the existence of research environments that produce high-quality, significant datasets despite not availing themselves of the latest technologies.

Ethnographic research carried out in such environments evidences a widespread fear among researchers that providing extensive information about their experimental set-up will affect the perceived quality of their data, making their findings vulnerable to criticisms by better-resourced peers. T

hese fears can make scientists resistant to sharing data or describing their provenance. To counter this, debates around Open Data need to include critical reflection on how data quality is evaluated, and the extent to which that evaluation requires a localised assessment of the needs, means and goals of each research environment.

URL : Global Data Quality Assessment and the Situated Nature of “Best” Research Practices in Biology

DOI : http://doi.org/10.5334/dsj-2017-032

Decentralized creation of academic documents using a Network Attached Storage (NAS) server

Authors : Johannes Wilm, Afshin Sadeghi, Christoph Lange, Philipp Mayr

Scholarly document creation continues to face various obstacles. Scholarly text production requires more complex word processors than other forms of texts because of the complex structures of citations, formulas and figures.

The need for peer review, often single-blind or double-blind, creates needs for document management that other texts do not require. Additionally, the need for collaborative editing, security and strict document access rules means that many existing word processors are imperfect solutions for academics.

Nevertheless, most papers continue to be written using Microsoft Word (Sadeghi et al. 2017).

We here analyze some of the problems with existing academic solutions and then present an argument why we believe that running an open source academic writing solution for academic purposes, such as Fidus Writer, on a Network Attached Storage (NAS) server could be a viable alternative.

URL : https://arxiv.org/abs/1706.04185

Peer reviewing: a private affair between the individual researcher and the publishing houses, or a responsibility of the university?

Authors : Leif Longva, Eirik Reierth, Lars Moksness, Bård Smedsrød

Peer reviewing is mandatory for scientific journals as quality control of submitted manuscripts, for universities to rank applicants for scientific positions, and for funding agencies to rank grant applications.

In spite of this deep dependency of peer reviewing throughout the entire academic realm, universities exhibit a peculiar lack of interest in this activity.

The aim of this article is to show that by taking an active interest in peer reviewing the universities will take control over the management and policy shaping of scientific publishing, a regime that is presently largely controlled by the big publishing houses.

The benefits of gaining control of scientific publishing policy include the possibility to implement open access publishing and to reduce the unjustifiably high subscription rates currently charged by some of the major publishing houses.

A common international clean-up action is needed to move this pivotal element of scientific publishing from the dark hiding places of the scientific journals to where it should be managed: namely, at the universities.

In addition to the economic benefits, we postulate that placing peer reviewing at the universities will improve the quality of published research.

DOI : http://dx.doi.org/10.3998/3336451.0020.103

TrueReview: A Platform for Post-Publication Peer Review

Authors : Luca de Alfaro, Marco Faella

In post-publication peer review, scientific contributions are first published in open-access forums, such as arXiv or other digital libraries, and are subsequently reviewed and possibly ranked and/or evaluated.

Compared to the classical process of scientific publishing, in which review precedes publication, post-publication peer review leads to faster dissemination of ideas, and publicly-available reviews. The chief concern in post-publication reviewing consists in eliciting high-quality, insightful reviews from participants.

We describe the mathematical foundations and structure of TrueReview, an open-source tool we propose to build in support of post-publication review.

In TrueReview, the motivation to review is provided via an incentive system that promotes reviews and evaluations that are both truthful (they turn out to be correct in the long run) and informative (they provide significant new information).

TrueReview organizes papers in venues, allowing different scientific communities to set their own submission and review policies. These venues can be manually set-up, or they can correspond to categories in well-known repositories such as arXiv.

The review incentives can be used to form a reviewer ranking that can be prominently displayed alongside papers in the various disciplines, thus offering a concrete benefit to reviewers. The paper evaluations, in turn, reward the authors of the most significant papers, both via an explicit paper ranking, and via increased visibility in search.

URL : https://arxiv.org/abs/1608.07878


What is open peer review? A systematic review

Author : Tony Ross-Hellauer


“Open peer review” (OPR), despite being a major pillar of Open Science, has neither a standardized definition nor an agreed schema of its features and implementations. The literature reflects this, with a myriad of overlapping and often contradictory definitions.

While the term is used by some to refer to peer review where the identities of both author and reviewer are disclosed to each other, for others it signifies systems where reviewer reports are published alongside articles.

For others it signifies both of these conditions, and for yet others it describes systems where not only “invited experts” are able to comment. For still others, it includes a variety of combinations of these and other novel methods.


Recognising the absence of a consensus view on what open peer review is, this article undertakes a systematic review of definitions of “open peer review” or “open review”, to create a corpus of 122 definitions.

These definitions are then systematically analysed to build a coherent typology of the many different innovations in peer review signified by the term, and hence provide the precise technical definition currently lacking.


This quantifiable data yields rich information on the range and extent of differing definitions over time and by broad subject area. Quantifying definitions in this way allows us to accurately portray exactly how  ambiguously the phrase “open peer review”  has been used thus far, for the literature offers a total of 22 distinct configurations of seven traits, effectively meaning that there are 22 different definitions of OPR in the literature.


Based on this work, I propose a pragmatic definition of open peer review as an umbrella term for a number of overlapping ways that peer review models can be adapted in line with the ethos of Open Science, including making reviewer and author identities open, publishing review reports and enabling greater participation in the peer review process.

URL : What is open peer review? A systematic review

DOI : http://dx.doi.org/10.12688/f1000research.11369.1