The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), publisher of the Science family of journals, today announced the acquisition of "Peer Review Evaluation" (PRE), a web-based service that promotes public trust in science by making the review of original research more transparent and verifiable.
Offering benefits to readers, publishers, and authors, PRE can be customized to display details about how research articles have been assessed. "By presenting users with a simple visual 'badge,' the PRE technology provides information about each step in the peer-review process and the practices and values of journals," Science Publisher Kent Anderson said. "In this way, PRE will make it easier for everyone to identify articles from legitimate scientific journals and to understand the peer-review history in more detail."
The technology — launched in 2014 by the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. (JBJS), and acquired by AAAS on 30 June 2015 — is consistent with the Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing, Anderson noted. Those principles, established by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME), the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA), and the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), urge participating journals to clearly indicate whether or not articles have been peer-reviewed, and to publicly disclose peer-review procedures.
PRE is already available to users of the JBJS family of journals as well as those published by the American Diabetes Association. PRE will be implemented and made available on the Science journals — Science, Science Translational Medicine, Science Signaling, and Science Advances — later this year.
"Saying that scientific content has been peer-reviewed is no longer enough to overcome the mistrust in science that has resulted in part from the variability of journal practices," said Marcia McNutt, editor-in-chief of the Science family of journals. "PRE was built on a conviction that strong, transparent peer review processes usually result in a more trustworthy final product. That benefits the scientific enterprise, and therefore society more broadly."
PRE will continue to support existing integrations with the HighWire Press publishing platform and with the Aries Systems' Editorial Manager manuscript system. Integrations with other scholarly publishing platforms and manuscript submission systems are already in development.
When integrated with a publisher's manuscript submission system, PRE can be set up to display increasing levels of insight about paper handling — from submission and acceptance dates, to the number of peer-reviewers and their role in the assessment, or even reviewers' comments, if desired.
Moving forward, AAAS plans to further develop the PRE technology so that it can verify whether or not an author has deposited supporting data to an appropriate repository, said Eric Hall, Product Director for PRE. "Confirming data deposition by authors of accepted papers is a critical, but time-consuming and manual process for editors," Hall explained. "Next-generation PRE technology will be able to ensure that authors have indeed made their results fully accessible to other researchers who may want to reproduce a study or further review its findings."
Science Publisher Kent Anderson added that AAAS is also exploring leveraging PRE to support open science practices and the feasibility of certification and training services for peer reviewers and publishers as part of PRE's development roadmap.
Anderson commended the pioneering work of PRE Founder Adam Etkin. "We are indebted to Adam Etkin for his innovation and leadership in developing PRE to help promote ethical, rigorous peer review," Anderson said. "His vision and creativity have consistently advanced the highest standards in scholarly publishing, and although he will now step away from his role as PRE managing director, I look forward to watching his continued progress."
The AAAS acquisition of PRE was handled by Michael Clarke, Joe Esposito, and David Lamb of STM Advisers LLC, with assistance from colleagues at Venable LLP. "This acquisition supports the mission of AAAS to advance science in service of society," said Clarke. "PRE's technology, now backed by AAAS, creates a powerful platform for promoting transparency and integrity in the peer review process across the scholarly publishing community."
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science (www.sciencemag.org) as well as Science Translational Medicine (www.sciencetranslationalmedicine.org), Science Signaling (www.sciencesignaling.org), and a digital, open-access journal, Science Advances (www.scienceadvances.org). AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes nearly 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world. The non-profit AAAS (www.aaas.org) is open to all and fulfills its mission to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement, and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!, www.eurekalert.org, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS. See www.aaas.org.