Is Post-Publication Peer Review the Future of Scientific Manuscripts?

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You have finally compiled all your research data, and you’re ready to submit your scientific study for publication (of course, after you use a professional editing service to ensure your writing is clear, crisp, concise, and consistent). However, there is still work to be done. Typically, manuscripts are subjected to an extensive peer review before they are published to guarantee compliance with scientific standards—in this way, journals maintain their academic integrity, and readers can rest assured that the studies contained within are rigorous and scientifically sound. 

However, the peer review landscape is shifting. There is a growing trend toward peer reviewing post-publication, especially with much of that work moving into the digital sphere. 

Standard peer-reviewing is becoming more difficult due to the pressure to publish more content to keep up with the pace of the internet and scientific research development in general as increasingly sophisticated technology and research methodology sharply accelerate the advancement of science. It can take a long time to find good formal reviewers, which means that authors have to do more revisions and risk not getting their work out into the world fast enough. 

Now that many journals are moving online—and some are even ditching print entirely and focusing solely on their digital presence—a post-publication peer review (PPPR) is beginning to make a lot more sense to some scholars. Like most things, PPPR comes with both advantages and disadvantages, and we’ll take a look at both. 

3 benefits of PPPR

1. PPPR can be done quickly. Since the internet is always open, PPPR makes it possible for any scientist to submit a review regardless of their time zone. The editorial process can therefore be much more efficient, without the stress and time constraints associated with the traditional peer review process. Since PPPR involves a less formal approach, scientists interested in contributing an opinion can also review your paper in their spare time, which could even be in the middle of the night in their time zone. This means new reviews could roll in at any time. 

It’s not just time zones—the more casual nature of PPPR means scientists may be able to complete their reviews more quickly, which can boost your academic credentials by keeping you and your work in the current conversation.

2. You get more eyes on your research. With a limited number of people scrutinizing your work in a pre-publication review process, it can be easy enough even for experts to overlook errors. One advantage of PPPR is the sheer number of people who can engage with your work, which all but guarantees any oversight will be detected. 

The more feedback you get on your manuscript, the more comprehensive the insights you receive will be. Thanks to PPPR, you may even glean insights that a small team of pre-publication peer reviewers could easily overlook. The same applies if there’s anything about your work that could be considered controversial. 

Of course, pre-publication editing is still a wise investment to ensure your paper is ready for the most constructive PPPR feedback. Get feedback from our team of experts to be certain that your arguments will be fully understood before you subject your paper to the PPPR process.

3. Your work becomes readily accessible. Much can be (and has been) said about gatekeeping in academia. PPPR broadens your reach, enabling your work to transcend the constraints of closed-access and closed-reviewing processes. Thus, it allows your work to be reviewed by scientists who otherwise might not have access to it, exposing you to a wider range of viewpoints and ideas. Knowing that their research will be accessible can greatly motivate an author to scrutinize their own work even more thoroughly and ensure that loose ends are tied up more effectively, leading to a more robust paper even pre-review. 

To make your work as accessible as possible, use our academic transcription services to transcribe any necessary audio or video components of your research. The larger the number of people who can access your paper, the more opportunities you have to glean important insights that can improve it. Transparency, removal of paywalls, and publicly available research democratize your work instead of keeping it locked up for only a select few. Moreover, the fact that reviews can be anonymous allows arguments and critiques to flow more freely, without the risk of immediate dismissal based on conscious or subconscious bias.

3 possible disadvantages of PPPR

1. The internet is unpredictable. With open PPPR, there is a possibility that your work is more easily misconstrued, taken out of context, or dogpiled on, especially since it can be readily shared in smaller snippets. Academics can fall victim to their own biases, lifting one or two sentences from your paper that support their entrenched beliefs and sharing them widely, even if they are misinterpreting the overall conclusion of your research.

Additionally, a large number of reviews can become confusing for your intended audience if too much input gets added to your original work, especially if it’s not the most academically rigorous feedback. In addition, the most valuable feedback risks getting lost in a sea of mediocre insights.

2. Anonymity can work against you. Although anonymous reviews have some advantages, trolls abound on social media (yes, even in academic circles), which means that bad-faith arguments can be anonymously posted by those who might not be considered your peers. People are much more likely to get nasty when they can hide behind anonymity, and those who have a vested interest in refuting your conclusions—whether because they go against their political beliefs or interfere with their business activities—will happily attack you.

3. Distractions. With a closed-review process, everything is said and done before your work goes out into the world. With an open PPPR process, an author or a research team can get defensive and waste time responding to unfair criticisms directed at their work. Before diving into the world of PPPR, it’s important to understand everything it entails and keep a level head even when you receive unjust criticisms.

These negative aspects of PPPR are the reason why independent and well-moderated third-party platforms are important. They can ensure the integrity of the PPPR process so that it is still scientific and constructive, which should be the ultimate goal of any peer review process. Recommended platforms include PubPeer, F1000, and OpenReview. These make it possible to enjoy the benefits of PPPR while minimizing the disadvantages.

The takeaway

Peer review is a core component of the presentation of scientific research and should be embraced. A paper that hasn’t been peer-reviewed has not been sufficiently scrutinized and does not meet the rigorous standards of academia. The openness of PPPR puts the evaluation of research into the hands of more experts, which in turn leads to more valuable scientific insights. Scientific research specifically benefits from the review process because it has multiple real-world applications. Though many scientists and other academics are still learning to navigate the open PPPR process, it’s currently understood that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, so regardless of its imperfections, it remains a major link in the review process of scientific manuscripts. 

Of course, you’ll still want to do all you can to polish your paper before its publication. Get an editing and proofreading quote and start working with our experts to make sure that your manuscript shines before you present it to the world. 

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