Adding a few carrots to “Open” – announcing academic contribution + feedback

by | Apr 25, 2013 | regular

We started PeerJ from personal convictions that Open Access is a critical component to improving scientific output. Not stopping there, we wanted to give both peer-reviewers and authors the opportunity to make reviews open. Given this option, 65% of authors are choosing to make their reviews public.

Further, we introduced “PrePrints” a couple weeks weeks back. As noted in that announcement, with PeerJ PrePrints we would like to get the life science community more comfortable with sharing preliminary results and avoid costly delays in communication while waiting for the still important peer-reviewed publication.

Today, we’re announcing another tool that we hope will add a few more carrots to incentivizing a more open science community. This “academic contribution tool” will help shed light on many contributions that take place quietly or completely behind the scenes, such as peer-review and water-cooler feedback about our colleague’s work. These are contributions that deserve more visible recognition.


Researcher pages, if public, will show that user’s contribution to different areas of work on PeerJ. It is broken down by “role” and subject area.” There are currently five roles: editor, PeerJ author, PrePrints author, reviewer, and for leaving feedback (which is also new – see below). Individuals receive contribution points not just from publishing or being an academic editor, but by also choosing to make their contributions open. Open reviews receive 35% more contribution, preprints receive contribution, etc. In a sentence, we’re rewarding those who are more open in order to drive more open science. To start, all previous academic editors, reviewers, and authors who qualify will already have contributor points [ again the profile needs to be set as public first].


Not your typical commenting system. A very important yet usually unrecognized contribution to science are the informal conversations and feedback to authors outside of peer-review. In the last few years, journals have allowed online commenting below an article. Unfortunately, most commenting systems have suffered from lack of participation and lack of recognition for taking the effort to provide feedback. PeerJ Feedback works differently. Briefly explained below.

Anyone can add feedback to an article and it will appear under the article (currently limited to PeerJ PrePrints and coming soon to peer-review articles). You won’t receive immediate recognition, however. To receive recognition a colleague who already has academic contribution in that article’s subject area(s) can vote your feedback up. Alternatively, the author(s) of that article can “accept” your feedback as substantially helpful.

Each vote on feedback raises your academic contribution profile in those subject areas. Gain enough contribution in a subject area ( for example microbiology ) and then you can also vote others up if they leave feedback on a microbiology paper. In this system then, votes carry more credibility and anyone reading the feedback can have more confidence that what they see is an important addition to the conversation.

As stated above, this is just the beginning and we are already working on more tools to fulfill our mission of increasing open science.

Three things you’ll want to know:

1. We have a general FAQ on the academic contribution and feedback.

2. Feedback is in beta and as such is currently available only on PrePrints. An example is on this data reuse preprint.

3. Although not currently implemented, we are looking to add DOIs for valuable feedback. Even without a DOI, feedback can still be cited in the mean time as each feedback item has a unique URL + anchor link.

Get PeerJ Article Alerts