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why authors are choosing to publish in PeerJ & support its mission. Author interviews

PeerJ and your contributions

How often do you leave a comment on a journal article? How often do you find comments useful?
The answer to both is probably not very often. We want to change that. To do so, we've thought a lot about how to structure PeerJ's commenting system and have broken comments out into feedback and questions. It is very much modeled on StackOverflow.

Our annotation system goes beyond just answering questions or finding answers. Everyone from authors, editors, reviewers, and visitors to PeerJ are contributing in some way. Often, these are "hidden" contributions to the body of science that can go unrecognized. The points that we are starting to show on profile pages are just a light way to surface this participation.


We recommend quickly reviewing this great StackOverflow tour of how to achieve the most out of the system that mirrors PeerJ's.

Get credit for your contributions


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Annotate publications and help authors

View top contributors

Which activities can I get credit for?

  • Be an academic editor on a PeerJ article = 100 pts

  • Be an author on a published PeerJ article = 100 pts

  • Make your manuscript reviews public on a PeerJ article = 35 pts

  • Submit an "open review" as a reviewer on a PeerJ article = 35 pts

  • Be an author on a PeerJ PrePrint = 35 pts

  • Be an academic editor on a rejected PeerJ article without reviews = 35 pts

  • Have an answer on a question accepted = 15 pts
  • Have feedback deemed "very helpful" by an author of a PeerJ PrePrint = 15 pts

  • Receive an up vote for an answer = 10 pts

  • Receive an up vote for a question = 5 pts

  • Receive an up vote for feedback on a PeerJ PrePrint = 5 pts

  • Receive an up vote for reply to question or comment = 1 pt

  • Have first feedback approved in moderation on a PeerJ PrePrint = 1 pt

What is Q&A?

If you've looked at commenting systems on other journals you may have noticed that these 'annotations' tend to fall into a few different categories. In some instances, they are questions, and at other times (particularly in preprints) they are closer to being feedback. At PeerJ we want to distinguish between annotation types in order to provide different contextual support, tools, and structure.

Ultimately, by structuring annotations in this way, it becomes easier to find them and reuse them in the future. It also improves the literature over time by giving them dynamic narratives without impacting the original work, one of our goals at PeerJ. Finally, it makes it easier to give credit to annotators.

Q&A (or Questions & Answers) is available on both peer-reviewed articles and PrePrints. Q&A is available at the paragraph, figure, and table level on peer-reviewed articles. On PrePrints, questions can be asked at the bottom of the page. Questions can also be asked apart from any specific article or PrePrint.

annotation

What is the heat map?

It could quickly get confusing since questions can be asked on any paragraph or figure/table. The heat map is the solution to easily navigating to questions and understanding the amount of activity (and where most activity is happening) on a paper at a glance. Once at least one question is added it will appear on the left side of your screen.

Using: Hover on the heat map to see how many questions in that particular section and click on the heat map to open up that section.

Heat maps are only shown on peer-reviewed articles (i.e. not on PrePrints) and are currently disabled on mobile devices due to the smaller screen size..

Q&A heatmap

How do I add a question?

Three different ways - each with a different use case

1 - To the left of each paragraph, figure, and table on peer-reviewed articles you will see a faded comment icon that when hovered over will turn orange. Click it to reveal any questions and form for that section.

2 - Another way to add questions (example on PrePrints) is to scroll to the bottom of the PrePrint or article and locate the "Ask a question" button. Not every section in an article is supported yet, for example supplemental files, so using the question form at the bottom of a paper makes sense in these situations.

3 - A final way to add a question is to go to the question index and ask a question that is unconnected to any article or PrePrint. This is useful for asking general questions. The search index is also accessible from the top navigation bar anywhere on the PeerJ site - locate the "Q&A " in the black navigation bar.

Adding a question
Adding a question

Who can ask a question or answer one?

This is very important - anyone can ask a question or answer one. It doesn't have to be the author of a paper who answers, though that may be easier or make sense depending on the question.

Multiple answers can also be provided for each question, however individuals can only answer once per question.

How does editing work & why is it allowed?

You can edit your question, answer, or comment indefinitely. A history is started after a few minutes to give you time to correct any obvious typos, etc first.

We feel that allowing edits to improve a question or answer is critical if we want to create the best source of information about a subject. It makes sense then to keep a history in order to track changes. Keep in mind that votes can be removed if someone disagrees with a new edit.

Who can vote on questions, answers, and comments?

Anyone can ask questions, give answers, or comment, but not everyone can vote. Voting privileges must be earned first. To give more credibility to the voting system, and thus the annotations, you must have at least 15 contribution points in at least one subject area.

If you've already authored an article in PeerJ or PeerJ PrePrints then you've already received enough points to vote in any subject area. The same is true for academic editors or reviewers who elected to make their review open.

For everyone else, you can stil get points by contributing a question, answer, or comment and getting voted up by others. It only takes three up votes to get voting privileges. Or, someone can "accept" your answer. "Accepted" answers are given 15 points. There are other ways as well (see above for points available).

voting up with 15 pts

When should I accept an answer?

While anyone can ask a question or create an answer, only the original question author can accept an answer. When to accept is up to you, but only one answer can be accepted per question. If more than one answer is acceptable then you can still vote the others up and the answer author will receive contribution points for the vote.

accept an answer

Where can I see my points and any questions or answers that I posted?

Your user profile. You'll need to tick the "make profile visible" in your user settings first though. If your profile page is private, only your name, image if you uploaded one, and any articles published or edited will appear to other visitors.

questions on profile page

What is feedback?

Feedback is currently in beta testing only on PrePrints. Feedback is more than simply a "great work!" type of comment, but rather like a mini review or anything that might help the author(s) improve their work. Or you may want to ask for additional information.

What is a "reply" to feedback?

Replies are quick responses. A reply should be its own feedback instead if it is a substantial contribution in itself.

feedback and replies

Why no voting or points for replies to feedback?

It can be difficult to identify substantial contributions if buried in a long thread of conversation. To incentivize some structured curation, only feedback can be voted on and replies have a maximum length of 5,000 characters.

Who can vote on feedback?

Anyone can, but not everyone can vote. Voting privileges must be earned first. To give more credibility to the voting system, and thus the feedback, you must have at least 15 contribution points in one of the subject areas for the particular PrePrint or article.

If you've already authored an article in PeerJ or PeerJ PrePrints then you've already received enough points to vote in those subject areas. The same is true for academic editors or reviewers who elected to make their review open.

For everyone else, you can stil get points by contributing feedback and getting voted up by others. It only takes three up votes to get voting privileges. Or, someone can "accept" your feedback, which basically means they think it is substantially helpful in some way. "Accepted" feedback is given 15 points. There are other ways as well (see above for points available).

voting up with 15 pts

When should I accept feedback given to my manuscript?

Entirely up to you and your co-authors. Though generally, you should just vote up simple feedback (e.g. typo corrections). Reserve accepting feedback for substantial improvements or suggestions.

Where can I see my points and any feedback that I posted?

Your user profile. You'll need to tick the "make profile visible" in your user settings first though. If your profile page is private, only your name, image if you uploaded one, and any articles published or edited will appear to other visitors.

feedback on profile page

Why can I only give feedback on PrePrints?

It's just until we iron out any kinks. Then it will be added to the peer-reviewed articles as well.

Will feedback receive DOIs?

Yes, for valuable feedback. However, at the moment DOIs are not assigned.