Who can become a Peer in Peerage of Science?
Only scientists who have published a peer reviewed scientific article in an established international journal as first or corresponding author
will be validated as Peers, and can access and review manuscripts submitted by others to the service. Basically anyone who gets an invitation from someone who is already a Peer, can register as a user of the service. However, registering does not yet mean access to manuscripts; this is possible only after service administration has checked the identity and qualifications of the user. For information on how to get an invitation, see here
How do I become a Peer in Peerage of Science?
Access to Peerage of Science is for invited scientists only – but anyone considered a scientist by another scientists can get an invitation. Invitation gives you access to the service (a username and a password), but does not yet make you a Peer. Before you get the right to access and review manuscripts, and to invite your colleagues in, our service administration will check your identity and qualifications. How to get an invitation?
Does the word "Peerage" signal that you want to be an elitist, closed group of privileged insiders wielding un-democratic power, like the hereditary aristocracy?
No! By definition, "Peers" are people equal to each other, and we consider anybody doing science a Peer, hence entitled to join this "Peerage" (see above). If Peerage of Science was asked what the synonym for "Peerage" is, it would be "Equalage" (apologies to all our English teachers reading this).
If so many scientists can see my unpublished manuscript, isn't there a greater risk of my results getting stolen?
No, the risk is smaller than in the current system! Think about it: if a large number of scientists in your field (including many journal editors) have witnessed a result sent to Peerage of Science, it is very difficult for anyone to even submit, let alone publish, that result as their own without many people noticing. This is one of the reasons why, for example in physics and mathematics, most results are sent to pre-print servers like arXiv.org before they are sent to peer review. Peerage of Science achieves similar protection without having to publish your un-reviewed manuscript under your name. Authors also have the option of explicitly excluding up to ten Peers from seeing the manuscript. In addition, Peerage of Science does log all activities, facilitating investigation of any suspected scientific misconduct.
Will anonymity and free choice encourage people to write purposefully biased reviews to support or attack a manuscript?
Many features in Peerage of Science prevent this. First, Peers cannot even access, let alone review, manuscripts written by previous co-authors from past three years, or by colleagues in the same institution, so conspiracies are quite difficult to form. Second, peer-review-of-peer-review (see overview
of the peer review process) makes such behavior unfruitful and risky. Other Reviewers will notice the bias and give that review low scores in review evaluation; the Editors will not give much weight to the review when considering publication of the manuscript, and the same effort could have been spent writing a review one could proudly publish. Also, Peers are encouraged to report any suspicions of scientific misconduct, in which case an investigation board which has access to system logs is formed.
Why would journals be interested in publishing manuscripts that have already been seen by so many scientists, and does this not violate the "no prior publication" -term most journals have?
Quite the contrary, the publishing journal will only benefit from the pre-publication advertisement the work has received in Peerage of Science! You have to remember that no one can cite a manuscript; the work becomes citable science only after it is published. In the best case, the scientific community is anxiously waiting for the paper to come out. What could be a greater situation for the journal – or the Authors! Note also, that only the first version of a manuscript is visible to most Peers; as soon as the actual peer-review starts the process can be accessed only by Authors, Reviewers engaged in that particular manuscript, and Editors. The revised version is also accessible only to this small group of people. In addition, users explicitly agree to a non-disclosure agreement concerning the manuscript and the reviews every time they access a new process, which is in force until the content is published.
I am not interested in publishing in any of the participating journals – why would I submit my manuscript?
First of all, you will not be restricted to publishing in the participating journals (see list of participating journals
). Once the peer review process is completed, Authors can create a temporary user account with an access to that particular peer review process. When submitting to a non-participating journal of their choice, Authors can inform the Editor of that journal about the peer reviews in Peerage of Science (e.g., in the cover letter), and include a username and password the Editor can use to access the reviews. In case the Editor decides to utilize the reviews, this will probably speed up the publication process of the manuscript! Second, by submitting your manuscript to Peerage of Science and informing a non-participating journal about the reviews you will help to attract that journal to join. In the future, it might be possible for you to get a direct publishing offer from that journal inside Peerage of Science!
There are not many Peers from my field in Peerage of Science – why would I submit a paper if there is no one to review it?
The roots of the initiative are in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Conservation Biology. This can be seen in the fields represented among the Peers and participating journals. But Peerage of Science wants to serve you as well, no matter what field of science you represent. You yourself can help make this happen, by inviting your colleagues to join, and by encouraging them to invite their colleagues, and so on, and so on. This way, very soon, there will be enough unaffiliated Peers from your field as well, to review your manuscript! And if you and the others from you field will begin to actively use the service, by submitting manuscripts and by reviewing manuscripts submitted by others, very soon also the journals will get interested. And look, we have a new field of science actively functioning in Peerage of Science!
Is Peerage of Science a for-profit company?
Yes, and this may be an issue of personal values for some, but do consider the following: Peerage of Science revenue comes from other companies that currently make profits from science, and whenever Peerage of Science pays out its own profits, 50% will go back to the scientific community (see Articles of Association
). How many of the companies to which you currently donate your scientific work, can promise that?
Is there a risk that Peerage of Science turns greedy and puts profit before the best interest of scientists?
The Finnish company law allows for a company to have legally binding purpose other than maximizing profit. Peerage of Science has an explicit primary purpose to foster and develop science in the best interests of Peers, and seek profit only as a secondary purpose (see Articles of Association
). Peerage of Science executives are legally responsible if they violate this.
Who is in control of the company?
As required by the law, ultimate control resides in Shareholder's General Meeting and operations are controlled by the Board of Directors. Currently the founders
manage both responsibilities. However, Peerage of Science has very unusual requirements in its Articles of Association
, placing checks and balances on how the company is controlled. Peerage of Science has a Board of Governors
that can nominate and dismiss Directors, decides their salary and benefits, and sets the agenda for the General Meeting. Peers can dismiss Governors by majority vote if they are displeased with how things are run.
How is Peerage of Science funded?
Peerage of Science offers services commercially to scientific publishers, funding institutions and other organizations that require peer review in their functions. Peerage of Science is free for scientists as Authors and Reviewers.