Some of the Innovations of the PeerJ Publication Platform

We launched our publication site today, and we wanted to outline some of the innovative functionality, and thinking, that you will see there. Before we highlight these developments, it is important to recognize that we are developing with a rapid build and test cycle – meaning that users will see continual improvements in the functionality as we go forwards. With that said, the functionality that we have launched with already incorporates several interesting and innovative features, and there will be plenty more innovations coming in the following months. For this work, great kudos goes out to the PeerJ development team who made all of this happen, from inception to launch.

For today, a few of the things we’d like to highlight are:

Multi-device friendly & clean: We’ve really worked to make sure key pages such as the homepage, search, and articles are friendly on all devices. We’ve made them spartan by design. Rather than cram every bit of info that we could into every space, we’ve deliberately kept a clean design. We’ll continue to add to it, as mentioned below, but for the most part you can expect us to adhere to the philosophy that “less is more.”

A Timeline on the Homepage: Traditional journals have a table of contents, but for an online-only journal (which will soon move to a daily publication schedule), that way of organising and displaying published content really doesn’t work. Instead, our homepage prominently features beautiful images, and showcases a publication ‘timeline’ which provides a graphical and interactive display of the latest content and the latest interactions on our site. Of course, at launch the timeline only goes back one day – but you will get the idea! We think that it’s a great start, but we’re already on our way developing the second iteration.

Member Profiles: Most journals don’t really care who you are – we do. In most journals you either read or write an article – and it is clear from the functionality that the journal doesn’t know who you are, and isn’t that interested in learning more about you. By contrast (although you can certainly interact with our site anonymously) if you sign up with a Free or Paid Membership account then we actually care about who you are, what you are interested in, what you do, and what you want to get out of your experience. As one example. you will notice that Members can create public profiles on which they can upload photos and complete their biographical details. Already, you will notice that published Authors are linked, via their publication, to their Profile pages (for example – click on the co-authors of this paper or notice that this author’s profile automatically lists all the papers he has published with us). Going forwards, you will see us build out the Profile functionality to include all levels of interaction on our site (for example your role as an Author, Editor, Reviewer or Commenter) and to showcase those interactions. We want our Members to feel that PeerJ is their natural home for publishing, interacting, and reading.

Altmetrics at the Article Level: With around 1.8 million articles published each year, we appreciate that academics need new, and more powerful, ways to evaluate the published literature. Although scholarly citations from other academics are a ‘gold standard’ indicator, they take many months or years to accrue. Historically, therefore, people have relied on the track record of a journal’s ability to select ‘good’ content, and this has embodied itself in the (much criticized) use of the Impact Factor of a given journal as a way to measure the ‘impact’ of those  articles that were published within it. ‘Altmetrics’ are a new and much more empowering way to evaluate scholarly content – for a start, they work at the article level (not the journal level) and in addition to traditional citations, altmetrics track things like usage, social media attention, non scholarly citations and so on. We are a firm believer in the power of altmetrics to transform the future evaluation of scholarly output and so we are partnering with ImpactStory to display altmetrics on all our published articles (see examples under the ‘metrics and sharing’ icon here and here).

Open Peer Review: In keeping with our philosophy of openness and transparency, we are encouraging Open Peer Review on our articles. This takes 2 forms: first of all we encourage reviewers to provide their name to the authors – if they make good and defensible points, then they should be prepared to put their name to them and stand by what they say(!); and secondly we are encouraging authors to make the peer review ‘history’ of their paper publicly available alongside their publication so that the full ‘audit trail’ of their process can be examined. Although not necessarily new, both aspects are still unfamiliar to many people, so both aspects are optional within our system – we want people to get comfortable with these features and as a result come to realize the power of them. A great example of this process happening in practice can be seen here, here and here (where available, the links to these pages are found in the ‘Author and article information’ section of each paper).

Follow Functionality: Most journals regard the published article as a fossilized item – never changing and never worthy of future attention. By contrast, PeerJ will encourage people to interact, and for readers to ‘follow’ any updates. By clicking ‘Follow’ you will be alerted as and when the articles you follow update, or change over time. The functionality is in its infancy, but this will be a very powerful feature of PeerJ moving forwards.

There are many other innovations either already on the site, or planned for the coming weeks – we encourage you to explore the site and to discover them for yourselves!

Authors wishing to experience the future of publishing can now submit their articles at:

The Peerj Team

Also see this post announcing the first publications of PeerJ.