PeerJ and Academic Publishing Organisations

Now that PeerJ is fully open for submissions we thought that readers might be interested in learning about some of the work that went on behind the scenes to get us here.

PeerJ is a part of the academic publishing ecosystem, and as such there are a number of ‘industry’ groups which are essential for us to work with – groups whose services will help us publish articles in an effective and ‘industry standard’ manner. Broadly these groups provide solutions for “unique identifiers” and “long term archiving”, or they represent professional organizations. Therefore, this is the first in a three part series of blog posts which will describe some of the groups we have been working with, or expect to work with, as we move forwards.

PeerJ and Professional Organizations

The academic publishing industry has a long history of course, and as such it has many well established professional organizations which most academic publishers associate themselves with. However, it is interesting to know that there are a number of ‘newer’ organizations which are also establishing themselves in this space, and of course PeerJ is looking to work with them as well. Three examples that are worth highlighting (each contributing different things into the mix) are ORCID, OASPA, and COPE:

ORCID ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID) is a very new organization which aims to assign unique identifiers to individuals involved in academic publications. From it’s site it is an “open, non-profit, community-based effort to create and maintain a registry of unique researcher identifiers and a transparent method of linking research activities and outputs to these identifiers”.

Ask any publisher, and they will tell you that the lack of a unique identifier for individual academics causes all sorts of problems in maintaining good databases of reviewers, authors, and editors; and hampers them in developing exciting new functionality wrapped around individuals. Of course, PeerJ has a specific focus on individuals, and we expect to collate and highlight their contributions whenever they interact with us (for example, our Members will have the option to display their consolidated activity on our site as they provide reviews; write articles; make comments and so on). As a result, an industry standard solution allowing individuals to claim a unique identifier for themselves is a key enabling technology, and is very much overdue! ORCID publicly launched in October (although they have been working on this problem for a couple of years), and individuals can now claim their unique identifiers at A number of organizations are already building ORCID support into the workflow and PeerJ will also be supporting ORCID (for example, we are a registered ‘ORCID Participant’, we already encourage members to add their ORCID ID to their profiles, and future developments will include greater ORCID integration). ORCID is an exciting development to watch.

OASPAOASPA (the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association) is also fairly new. It has been in existence now since 2008 and is intended to “support and represent the interests of Open Access journal and book publishers globally in all scientific, technical, and scholarly disciplines.” This is important industry association, and really the only such ‘trade group’ devoted to Open Access publishing. PeerJ is an Associate Member of OASPA, and will become a full member as soon as we start publishing (in early 2013). Importantly, OASPA organize annual meetings (known as COASP) which are a great forum for information about the latest developments in the Open Access movement. Reflecting their commitment to all things open, OASPA make the presentations from prior COASP meetings publicly available and they are definitely worth checking out.

image  Finally, for this blog post we wanted to highlight COPE (the Committee on Publication Ethics). Although not as new as the other two organizations (COPE is now 15 years old) it is still a reasonably recent development in the 350 year history of Academic Publishing! COPE exists to “provide advice to editors and publishers on all aspects of publication ethics and, in particular, how to handle cases of research and publication misconduct.” As such it is an invaluable resource for academic publishers – setting standards, providing guidelines and flowcharts, and facilitating discussions on specific cases which are used to educate and inform the industry and authors on how to handle difficult situations. COPE has been responsible for a considerable improvement in, and focus upon, publication ethics over the last decade and the work they do is extremely important in maintaining the integrity of the published literature. High standards for publication ethics are a key part of PeerJ’s philosophy and so we will become a full member of COPE as soon as we are eligible.

PeerJ is now fully open for submissions and we will be publishing our first articles in early 2013. If you would like to learn more, or to submit then please visit our site at

The next posts in this series will cover some of the services which provide “unique identifiers” and “long term archiving” solutions.

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