Investigation of potential gender bias in the peer review system at Reproduction

Authors : Marie BiolkováTom MooreKaren SchindlerKarl SwannAndy VailLindsay FlookHelen DickGreg FitzharrisChristopher A. PriceNorah Spears

This study examined whether publication outcome was affected by the gender of author, handling associate editor (AE), or reviewer, and whether there was gender bias in reviewer selection, in the journal Reproduction.

Analyses were carried out on 4289 original research manuscripts submitted to the journal between 2007 and 2019. Both female and male AEs appointed more male reviewers than female reviewers, but female AEs were significantly more likely to appoint female reviewers than male AEs were (p < 0.001).

When examining the gender of either first or last author manuscripts, those with female authors that were reviewed by female reviewers received better scores than those with male authors that were reviewed by female reviewers (p < 0.05): where the reviewer was male, no such effect was observed.

Acceptance rates of manuscripts were similar for both female and male authors, whether first or last, regardless of AE gender. Overall, there was no significant correlation between gender of first or last author, or of AE, on the likelihood of acceptance of a research paper.

These data suggest no bias against female authors during the peer review process in this reproductive biology journal.

URL : Investigation of potential gender bias in the peer review system at Reproduction


Leveraging Open Tools to Realize the Potential of Self-Archiving: A Cohort Study in Clinical Trials

Author : Delwen L. Franzen

While open access (OA) is growing, many publications remain behind a paywall. This limits the impact of research and entrenches global inequalities by restricting access to knowledge to those that can afford it.

Many journal policies allow researchers to make a version of their publication openly accessible through self-archiving in a repository, sometimes after an embargo period (green OA). Unpaywall and Shareyourpaper are open tools that help users find OA articles and support authors to legally self-archive their papers, respectively.

This study leveraged these tools to assess the potential of green OA to increase discoverability in a cohort of clinical trial results publications from German university medical centers. Of the 1897 publications in this cohort, 46% (n = 871/1897, 95% confidence interval (CI) 44% to 48%) were neither openly accessible via a journal or a repository. Of these, 85% (n = 736/871, 95% CI 82% to 87%) had a permission to self-archive the accepted or published version in an institutional repository.

Thus, most of the closed-access clinical trial results in this cohort could be made openly accessible in a repository, in line with World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations.

In addition to providing further evidence of the unrealized potential of green OA, this study demonstrates the use of open tools to obtain actionable information on self-archiving at scale and empowers efforts to increase science discoverability.

URL : Leveraging Open Tools to Realize the Potential of Self-Archiving: A Cohort Study in Clinical Trials


Do open-access dermatology articles have higher citation counts than those with subscription-based access?

Authors : Fangyi Xie, Sherief Ghozy, David F. Kallmes, Julia S. Lehman


Open-access (OA) publishing is increasingly prevalent in dermatology, and many journals now offer hybrid options, including conventional (subscription-based access [SA]) publishing or OA (with an author publishing charge) in a subscription journal. OA publishing has been noted in many disciplines, but this has been rarely studied in dermatology.


Using the Clarivate Journal Citation Report, we compiled a list of English-language dermatology hybrid OA journals containing more than 5% OA articles. We sampled any OA review or original research article in 4 issues from 2018 to 2019 and matched an equal number of SA articles. Citation count, citation count excluding self-citations and view counts found using Scopus and Altmetrics score were recorded for each article. Statistical analyses were performed using logistic and negative binomial models using R software.


Twenty-seven hybrid dermatology journals were found, and 538 articles were sampled (269 OA, 269 SA). For both original research and review articles, OA articles had significantly higher mean citation counts (mean 13.2, standard deviation [SD] 17.0) compared to SA articles (mean 7.9, SD 8.8) (odds ratio [OR] 1.04; 95% CI 1.02–1.05; P < .001) including when adjusted for time from publication.

Original research OA articles had significantly higher citation counts than original research SA articles (excluding self-citations; OR, 1.03; 95% CI, 1.01–1.05; P = .003), and review articles also had OA citation advantage than review SA articles (OR, 1.06; 95% CI, 1.02–1.11; P = .008). There was, however, no significant difference in citation counts between review articles and original research articles (OR, 1.00; 95% CI, 0.19–5.31; P = 1.000).

There was no significant difference seen in view counts (OA: mean±SD 17.7±10.8; SA: mean±SD 17.1±12.4) and Altmetric score (OA: mean±SD 13.2±47.8; SA: mean±SD 6.3±25.0) between OA and SA articles. Potential confounders included the fact that more OA articles were published in Europe than in Asia, and pharmaceutical-funded articles were more likely to be published OA.


We noted a higher citation count for OA articles than SA articles in dermatology hybrid journals. However, dermatology researchers should take into account confounding factors when deciding whether to increase the impact of their work by selecting OA over SA publishing.

URL : Do open-access dermatology articles have higher citation counts than those with subscription-based access?


The Preprint Club – A cross-institutional, community-based approach to peer reviewing

Authors : Felix Clemens Richter, Ester Gea-Mallorquí, Nicolas Ruffin, Nicolas Vabret

The academic community has been increasingly using preprints to disseminate their latest research findings quickly and openly. This early and open access of non-peer reviewed research warrants new means from the scientific community to efficiently assess and provide feedback to preprints. Yet, most peer review of scientific studies performed today are still managed by journals, each having their own peer review policy and transparency.

However, approaches to uncouple the peer review process from journal publication are emerging. Additionally, formal education of early career researchers (ECRs) in peer reviewing is rarely available, hampering the quality of peer review feedback.

Here, we introduce the Preprint Club, a cross-institutional, community-based approach to peer reviewing, founded by ECRs from the University of Oxford, Karolinska Institutet and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Over the past two years and using the collaborative setting of the Preprint Club, we have been discussing, assessing, and providing feedback on recent preprints in the field of immunology.

In this article, we provide a blueprint of the Preprint Club basic structure, demonstrate its effectiveness, and detail the lessons we learned on its impact on peer review training and preprint author’s perception.


Comparison of Study Results Reported in medRxiv Preprints vs Peer-reviewed Journal Articles

Authors : Guneet Janda, Vishal Khetpal, Xiaoting Shi, Joseph S. Ross, Joshua D. Wallach


What is the concordance among sample size, primary end points, results for primary end points, and interpretations described in preprints of clinical studies posted on medRxiv that are subsequently published in peer-reviewed journals (preprint-journal article pairs)?


In this cross-sectional study of 547 clinical studies that were initially posted to medRxiv and later published in peer-reviewed journals, 86.4% of preprint-journal article pairs were concordant in terms of sample size, 97.6% in terms of primary end points, 81.1% in terms of results of primary end points, and 96.2% in terms of study interpretations.


This study suggests that most clinical studies posted as preprints on medRxiv and subsequently published in peer-reviewed journals had concordant study characteristics, results, and final interpretations.

URL : Comparison of Clinical Study Results Reported in medRxiv Preprints vs Peer-reviewed Journal Articles

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Open access and predatory publishing: a survey of the publishing practices of academic pharmacists and nurses in the United States

Authors : Bridget C. Conlogue, Neyda V. Gilman, Louisa M. Holmes

Objective: Academics are under great pressure to publish their research, the rewards for which are well known (tenure, promotion, grant funding, professional prestige). As open access publishing gains acceptance as a publishing option, researchers may choose a “predatory publisher.” The purpose of this study is to investigate the motivations and rationale of pharmacy and nursing academics in the United States to publish in open access journals that may be considered “predatory.”

Methods: A 26-item questionnaire was programmed in Qualtrics and distributed electronically to approximately 4,500 academic pharmacists and nurses, 347 of whom completed questionnaires (~8%). Pairwise correlations were performed followed by a logistic regression to evaluate statistical associations between participant characteristics and whether participants had ever paid an article processing fee (APF).

Results: Participants who had published more articles, were more familiar with predatory publishing, and who were more concerned about research metrics and tenure were more likely to have published in open access journals. Moderate to high institutional research intensity has an impact on the likelihood of publishing open access. The majority of participants who acknowledged they had published in a predatory journal took no action after realizing the journal was predatory and reported no negative impact on their career for having done so.

Conclusion: The results of this study provide data and insight into publication decisions made by pharmacy and nursing academics. Gaining a better understanding of who publishes in predatory journals and why can help address the problems associated with predatory publishing at the root.

URL : Open access and predatory publishing: a survey of the publishing practices of academic pharmacists and nurses in the United States


Reading Peer Review : PLOS ONE and Institutional Change in Academia

Authors : Martin Paul Eve, Cameron Neylon, Daniel Paul O’Donnell, Samuel Moore, Robert Gadie, Victoria Odeniyi, Shahina Parvin

This Element describes for the first time the database of peer review reports at PLOS ONE, the largest scientific journal in the world, to which the authors had unique access.

Specifically, this Element presents the background contexts and histories of peer review, the data-handling sensitivities of this type of research, the typical properties of reports in the journal to which the authors had access, a taxonomy of the reports, and their sentiment arcs.

This unique work thereby yields a compelling and unprecedented set of insights into the evolving state of peer review in the twenty-first century, at a crucial political moment for the transformation of science.

It also, though, presents a study in radicalism and the ways in which PLOS’s vision for science can be said to have effected change in the ultra-conservative contemporary university.

URL : Reading Peer Review : PLOS ONE and Institutional Change in Academia

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