FAQs

"PEER COMMUNITY IN" PROJECT


FUNCTIONING OF PCI C Neuro


PCI C Neuro STRUCTURE


SELECTION OF ARTICLES


ARTICLE EVALUATION PROCESS


TRANSPARENCY AND ETHICS


FATE AND CITATIONS OF RECOMMENDED ARTICLES


COMMENTING ON ARTICLE RECOMMENDATIONS

 


"PEER COMMUNITY IN" (PCI) PROJECT

What is the “Peer Community in” project?

The PCI project is a non-profit scientific organization that aims to create specific communities of researchers reviewing and recommending preprints (unpublished articles) and, to a lesser extent, recommending postprints (published articles) in their field. These specific communities are entitled Peer Community in X, e.g. Peer Community in Circuit Neuroscience.
The goal of the PCIs is to highlight and recommend preprints as of particular interest to the community concerned. The preprints recommended by PCIs are complete articles of high value that do not necessarily need to be published in traditional journals.

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What is the goal of the various PCIs?

The aim of PCI is to offer scientists a free, stimulating, transparent and non-exclusive way to validate and promote their scientific output, by removing this monopoly from journals.
PCIs publicly highlight and recommend high-quality preprints. The preprints recommended by PCIs are complete articles of high value, that are reliable and citable without the need for publication in traditional journals.

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What is the role of the recommender?

Recommenders evaluate, and may choose to recommend preprints that have not been published by or submitted to a journal. To a lesser extent, they may also recommend postprints, i.e. articles already published in journals. Recommender is a role similar to that of a journal editor (finding reviewers, collecting reviews, making editorial decisions based on reviews), with the possibility of recommending the preprint after one or several rounds of review. When recommenders decide to recommend a preprint, they write a “recommendation”, which has its own DOI and is published in the electronic journal of the PCI in X. The recommendation is a short article, similar to a News & Views piece. It has its own title, contains between about 300 and 1500 words, describes the context and explains why the preprint is particularly interesting. The limitations of the preprint may also be discussed. This text also contains references (citing at least the recommended preprint). The recommendation of a postprint is more straightforward: the recommender selects a postprint that he/she wishes to recommend and invites a second recommender from PCI in X to write a joint recommendation text.

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What is a recommendation?

A “recommendation” is a short article written by one or several recommenders, describing why an article (preprint or postprint) is particularly interesting. It has a DOI and is published in the electronic journal of the PCI. The recommendation is a short article, similar to a News & Views piece. It has its own title, contains between about 300 and 1500 words, describes the context, explains why the preprint is particularly interesting and contains references (at least one, to the preprint recommended). The limitations of the preprint may also be discussed.

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What are the key features of recommendations?

Stimulating: Peer Community in X recommends remarkable articles.

Free: there are no fees associated with the evaluation process, and no charge for access to the comments and recommendations. The website is freely accessible.

Transparent: Reviews and recommendations (for preprints) and recommendations (for postprints) are freely available for consultation. Recommendations are signed by the recommenders. Reviewers may choose to remain anonymous or to sign their reviews.

Based on sound and independent evaluations: Recommenders and reviewers must declare that they have no conflict of interest with the authors or the content of the preprint they evaluate and recommend. The Managing Board performs a quality control check on the format and deontology of reviews and recommendations.

Not exclusive: A preprint may be recommended by different Peer Communities in X (a feature of particular interest for articles relating to multidisciplinary studies) and may even subsequently be published in a traditional journal (although this is not the goal of the PCIs).

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What place will the PCI project occupy in the scientific landscape?

Several Peer Communities in X will exist in various scientific fields (e.g. phytopathology, ecology, cancer research, etc.). The goal is not to set up a monopoly, and several alternative recommending systems may coexist with the PCI project. Preprints recommended by PCIs would not necessarily require subsequent publication in classic journals, because they are high-quality complete articles that are reliable and citable in their own right. In time, we expect PCIs to become the major medium for the publication of scientific output.

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See the Differences with other projects post on the PCI website.

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How can I start a new Peer Community in X?

The non-profit PCI organization is responsible for the creation and functioning of the various specific Peer Communities in X. The members of the Managing Boards of each Peer Community in X will also be members of the non-profit “Peer Community in” organization. Hence, representatives of all existing Peer Communities in X would collectively take decisions concerning the creation of each new Peer Community in X. If you would like to launch a new Peer Community in X, you should contact a Managing Board member and explain your project.

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Yes, and this is one of the chief advantages of PCI. The recommendation process is not exclusive and articles of interest to several different Peer Communities in X could be recommended by all those communities. This aspect is of particular interest for articles dealing with multidisciplinary studies. There would be no a priori hierarchy of communities, although some would be highly generalist (e.g. PCI Mathematics) whereas others would be more specialized (e.g. PCI Entomology). However, to avoid recommendations of various versions of an article, a preprint already recommended by a Peer Community in X could only be recommended by another Peer Community in X as it stands. In other words, once a Peer Community in X has recommended a preprint, this latter must be considered reviewed (i.e. like a published article) by all the other Peer Communities in X interested by recommending it.

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Who came up with this project?

The PCI project is an original idea of Denis Bourguet, Benoit Facon and Thomas Guillemaud, working at INRA (the French National Institute for Agricultural Research) in France.

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FUNCTIONING OF PCI C Neuro

What do I have to do as a recommender for PCI C Neuro?

Each recommender is expected to manage the evaluation process for one or two articles per year, on average. Thus, becoming a recommender for PCI C Neuro is not associated with a substantial workload. Recommenders evaluate and may recommend preprints that have not been published by or submitted to a journal. To a lesser extent, they can also recommend postprints (i.e. articles published in journals). Evaluating a preprint means playing a role similar to that of a journal editor (finding reviewers, collecting reviews, making editorial decisions based on reviews) and, possibly, recommending the preprint after several rounds of review. Recommenders deciding to recommend a particular preprint write a “recommendation” for that preprint, which has its own DOI and is published in the electronic journal of the PCI in X. The recommendation is a short article, similar to a News & Views piece. It has its own title, contains between about 300 and 1500 words, describes the context and explains why the preprint is particularly interesting. The limitations of the preprint can also be discussed. This text also contains references (referring at least to the preprint recommended). Recommending a postprint is more straightforward: the recommender chooses a postprint that he/she wishes to recommend and invites a second recommender from PCI in X to write a joint recommendation text.

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How can I become a recommender for PCI C Neuro?

New recommenders are nominated by current recommenders and approved by the Managing Board. If you are interested in becoming a recommender, please contact a current recommender in your field.

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Each recommender manages the evaluation process for one or two articles per year, on average. No recommender is allowed to handle more than five articles per year, to minimize the risk of a few recommenders dominating the recommendations made.

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Why would scientists care about a PCI C Neuro recommendation?

Scientists will care because the recommendations are attributed by a recognized group of colleagues, free of charge, and colleagues, employers and funding agencies will almost certainly recognize this recommendation as a mark of quality.

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PCI C Neuro STRUCTURE

How big do you hope/expect PCI C Neuro to be?

We expect PCI C Neuro to bring together several hundred recommenders, but there will be no restriction on numbers. This size would be sufficient to recommend a large number of articles, even if each recommender recommends only one or two articles per year.

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What does the Managing Board do?

The Managing Board of PCI C Neuro is a group of nine recommenders from this community. Its principal function is approving the nomination of new recommenders for PCI C Neuro. The Managing Board also deals with problems arising between authors and the recommenders responsible for evaluating and/or recommending articles. It detects and deals with dysfunctions of PCI C Neuro, and may exclude recommenders, if necessary. It also performs quality control checks on the format and deontology of the reviews and recommendations published by PCI C Neuro. Finally, members of the Managing Board of PCI C Neuro are part of the non-profit organization “Peer Community in”. This non-profit organization is responsible for the creation and functioning of the various specific Peer Communities in X.

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Who are the members of the Managing Board?

The Managing Board of PCI C Neuro has nine members (six randomly chosen from the recommenders in this community, the other three members being the founders of PCI). The recommenders selected were allowed to decline. In cases of refusal, another recommender was selected at random and the whole process repeated until six members were obtained. Half the Managing Board is replaced each year. In addition, the founders of PCI C Neuro are temporary members of the Managing Board for the first two years. The Managing Board will subsequently have only six members.

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What are the duties of the Managing board?

The Managing Board of PCI C Neuro is mostly responsible for nominating new recommenders for PCI C Neuro. It also deals with problems arising between authors and the recommenders responsible for evaluating and/or recommending articles. The Managing Board detects and deals with dysfunctions of PCI C Neuro, and may exclude recommenders from this community, if necessary. It also performs quality control checks on the format and deontology of the reviews and recommendations published by PCI C Neuro. Finally, members of the Managing Board of PCI C Neuro belong to the non-profit organization “Peer Community in”. This non-profit organization is responsible for the creation and functioning of the various specific Peer Communities in X.

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On what economic model is PCI C Neuro based?

See the PCI Economic model post on the PCI website.

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No, they are not.

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Can recommenders of Peer Community in Circuit Neuroscience be excluded if they do not do their job correctly?

Yes, the Managing board can exclude recommenders if their recommendations are of insufficient quality or if they do not respect the code of conduct of PCI C Neuro.

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Are PCI C Neuro data archived?

Yes. PCI C Neuro regularly backs up its data in several mirror web sites. Recommendations and peer-reviews are deposited in HAL open archive.

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SELECTION OF ARTICLES

What format must an article be in to be recommended?

Recommended articles may have diverse formats: reviews, comments, opinion articles, research articles, data articles, technical notes, computer notes, movies, etc. No editing, formatting or proof-reading of the recommended articles is required. We only ask the authors of recommended articles to add a cover page to their preprint and a sentence at the beginning of their abstract stating that their preprint has been peer-reviewed and recommended by PCI C Neuro.

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Which articles could be recommended?

The goal of PCI C Neuro is to recommend preprints deposited in open online archives and, to a lesser extent, articles already published in scientific journals. Peer Community in Circuit Neuroscience recommenders are encouraged to recommend articles in the following descending order of priority: 1) preprints deposited in open online archives (hence freely accessible) and not yet published in scientific journals (to encourage the expansion of the recommendation process), 2) articles already published in scientific journals but published with open access (and preferably free of charge for authors) and 3) articles published in scientific journals but not with open access.

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Are all submitted preprints recommended?

Any preprint can be recommended, provided a PCI C Neuro recommender is willing to manage its evaluation and to recommend it. However, not all submitted preprints are recommended, because not all preprints achieve the required quality.

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How can I submit my preprint to PCI C Neuro?

Authors are invited to submit their preprints to PCI C Neuro via a dedicated tool on the PCI C Neuro website. If a PCI C Neuro recommender is interested by evaluating the preprint he/she initiates the evaluation process.

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Will some preprints be left unevaluated?

Yes, probably. Authors are invited to submit their preprint to PCI C Neuro. But depending on the size of PCI C Neuro, the number of preprints awaiting evaluation, and their quality, a fraction of those preprints may not be considered.

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What if an author wants to submit his/her preprint to a journal and to PCI C Neuro?

The processes of publication in a traditional journal and recommendation by PCI C Neuro are not exclusive: a preprint can be submitted to a journal after its evaluation by PCI C Neuro. However, even though PCI C Neuro accepts parallel submissions with traditional journals, authors should declare parallel submissions to PCI C Neuro and should be aware that doing so may reduce the chances of their preprint being considered for review. It should be noted that parallel submission is being trialled at PCI C Neuro and is not currently accepted by other PCI communities.

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Is it possible to submit a preprint simultaneously to PCI C Neuro and to a journal?

Yes, PCI C Neuro accepts parallel submissions with traditional journals. However, authors should declare parallel submissions to PCI C Neuro and should be aware that doing so may reduce the chances of their preprint being considered for review. It should be noted that parallel submission is being trialled at PCI C Neuro and is not currently accepted by other PCI communities.

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Is it possible to recommend old articles?

Yes, it is possible to recommend old articles. However, PCI C Neuro is a new system that focuses principally on the evaluation of new and unpublished preprints.

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ARTICLE EVALUATION PROCESS

How are articles evaluated?

For preprints (i.e. articles neither published nor under consideration by a scientific journal): once deposited in open archives online, one author requests its evaluation from PCI C Neuro and can suggest recommenders. If a PCI C Neuro recommender is interested by the preprint, he/she initiates the evaluation process. This process is very similar to the process of evaluation for publication in a journal, and includes at least two high-quality peer reviews. Based on these reviews, the recommender decides to reject or to recommend the preprint as it stands, or asks the authors to revise their preprint. Several rounds of reviews may be required before a recommender decides to reject or recommend a preprint. When the recommender is satisfied by the reply and changes made by the authors, he/she can decide to recommend the preprint. This requires the recommender to write a “recommendation”, a short article, similar to a News & Views piece. This recommendation has its own title, contains between about 300 and 1500 words, describes the context, contains references (a reference to the preprint recommended at the very least) and explains why the preprint is particularly interesting. The limitations of the preprint may also be discussed. Once validated by the Managing Board, the “recommendation” and all the editorial correspondence (reviews, your decisions, authors’ replies) are then published by PCI C Neuro.  
For postprints (i.e. articles already reviewed and published in scientific journals): Two recommenders of PCI C Neuro consider a postprint as particularly interesting and worth recommending to PCI C Neuro. They cowrite a “recommendation”, which is a short article, similar to a News & Views piece. It has its own title, contains between about 300 and 1500 words, describes the context, provides a link to the DOI of the article, contains references (a reference to the preprint recommended, at least) and explains why the postprint is particularly interesting. The limitations of the postprint may also be discussed. Once validated by the Managing Board, this “recommendation”, is published by PCI C Neuro.  
The recommendation text, signed by two recommenders, provides a link to the DOI of the article and is published.

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How can I submit my preprint to PCI C Neuro?

You must first deposit your preprint in an open archive. You then log onto the PCI C Neuro website or sign up if you do not yet have an account. You then click on the green button "Submit a preprint" and follow the procedure.

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Who is responsible for recommending the articles?

Any recommender of PCI C Neuro can perform this task, provided that he/she follows the code of conduct of PCI C Neuro.

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What format do recommendations take?

A “recommendation” is a short article, similar to a News & Views piece, written by one or several recommenders and describing why an article is particularly interesting. It has a DOI and is published in pdf and html formats in the electronic journal of PCI C Neuro. Each recommendation has its own title, contains between about 300 and 1500 words, includes references, describes the context and explains why the recommended article is particularly interesting. The limitations of the article may also be discussed.

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TRANSPARENCY AND ETHICS

How is freedom from bias, cronyism, retaliation and flattery ensured?

Bias, cronyism, retaliation and flattery are limited by i) the transparency of the reviews, which are freely available and may be signed, and ii) the transparency of recommendation texts, which are freely available and must be signed. In addition, PCI C Neuro has established a code of conduct (no conflict of interest, no recommending of articles authored by recent coauthors and/or friends, etc.) to be followed by its recommenders. The Managing Board of PCI C Neuro performs quality control checks to ensure that these standards are adhered to for reviews and recommendations.

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What part of the evaluation process is made public?

All information leading to the recommendation of an article is made public: the name of the recommender responsible for recommending the article, his/her editorial decisions and recommendation text, the reviews and suggested corrections and the authors’ replies are available from the PCI C Neuro website, and the consecutive versions of the preprint are deposited in open archives. Only the name of the additional reviewers may be withheld.

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Are comments/reviews for rejected papers publicly available?

No, only reviews and comments leading to the attribution of a recommendation (positive, but with criticisms and suggestions for improvement) are published. When a paper is rejected, the reviews and comments are sent to the authors but are not published.

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Can people who are not recommenders for PCI C Neuro submit their preprints to PCI C Neuro?

Yes, all authors, whether or not they belong to PCI C Neuro, can submit their preprints to PCI C Neuro.

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FATE AND CITATIONS OF RECOMMENDED ARTICLES

How should you cite a recommendation?

Each recommendation by PCI C Neuro has a DOI and can therefore be cited as follows (in your CV and in manuscripts):

  • Bravo IG (2017) Unmasking the delusive appearance of negative frequency-dependent selection. Peer Community in Circuit Neuroscience, 100024. Doi: 10.24072/pci.evolbiol.100024

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When a preprint is recommended by PCI C Neuro, you can cite it as follows, by indicating which version of the preprint has been peer-reviewed and recommended:

  • Gallet R, Froissart R, RavignĂ© V. (2017) Things softly attained are long retained: Dissecting the Impacts of Selection Regimes on Polymorphism Maintenance in Experimental Spatially Heterogeneous Environments. bioRxiv, 100743, ver. 4 peer-reviewed by Peer Community In Evolutionary Biology. doi: 10.1101/100743

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No, no editing (formatting) of the articles is carried out and articles are recommended without modification of their format. Unpublished versions of recommended preprint deposited in an open archive are not edited. We ask only that the authors of recommended preprints add a cover page to their preprint, together with a sentence at the beginning of their abstract stating that their preprint has been recommended by PCI C Neuro – e.g. see https://www.biorxiv.org/content/biorxiv/early/2017/09/28/141127.full.pdf.

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Yes, recommended preprints are indexed. Google Scholar indexes all sorts of documents (articles, books, reports, etc.), including preprints deposited in repositories such as arXiv, bioRxiv, and Hal. These platforms therefore record preprint citations in the same way as they record citations of articles published in journals. An author’s profile in Google Scholar would therefore take into account recommended articles, whether the articles concerned are preprints from repositories or articles published in journals.

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Would scientific journals accept preprints with a PCI C Neuro recommendation as valid citable references?

Most, if not all journals already accept the citation of articles not published in peer-reviewed journals (e.g. book chapters and reports). As the preprints recommended have been peer-reviewed, we see no reason why traditional journals would refuse to consider them valid.

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Do scientific journals accept submission of preprint deposited in open archives?

More and more journals are accepting articles deposited as preprints in open archives for submission. See http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo/index.php.

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First, increasing numbers of journals are accepting articles deposited as preprints in open archives for submission. See http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo/index.php.

Second, a preprint reviewed and recommended by PCI C Neuro is a preprint with a guaranteed level of quality. It is not a published paper. There is, therefore, no reason for a journal to refuse the submission of recommended preprints, quite the opposite in fact.

Third, our list of recommenders includes ... TBC.

Fourth, the Editors-in-Chief of Ecology Letters (Tim Coulson), Evolution (Mohamed Noor), Evolution Letters (Jon Slate), Oikos (Dries Bonte), Evolutionary Ecology (Matthew Symonds), Evolutionary Applications (Louis Bernatchez), Molecular Ecology (Loren Rieseberg), Journal of Biogeography (Peter Linder), Frontiers of Biogeography (Joaquin Hortal), BMC Evol Biol (Christopher Foote), Genetica (Pierre Capy & Juan Bouzat) and Journal of Evolutionary Biology (Wolf Blanckenhorn) have indicated they will consider submissions of recommended preprints and that they may use PCI reviews and recommendations for their own review processes, if appropriate.

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The recommendation refers only to the version of the preprint that has been recommended.

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COMMENTING ON ARTICLE RECOMMENDATIONS

Can I comment on recommendations and on the corresponding articles?

Yes, everyone, including authors and readers, can comment on recommendations. All comments are welcome, provided that they deal with the science, are signed and are respectful to the authors, the recommenders who made the recommendations and the other commentators. Comments considered as abusive can be notified to the Managing Board, which may decide to withdraw them.

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Can I reply to a comment on recommendations?

Yes, everyone, including authors and readers, can comment on recommendations, comments, and the corresponding article. All comments are welcome, provided they deal with the science, are signed and respectful to the authors, the recommenders who made the recommendations and the other commentators. Replies to a comment not respecting these rules can be notified to the Managing Board, which may decide to withdraw them.

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What if I disagree with a recommendation?

If a reader disagrees with a recommendation or with any comments on an article, he can write a comment. This comment will be published, provided that it is signed and is respectful to the authors, the recommenders who made the recommendations and the other commentators. Comments not respecting these rules can be notified to the Managing Board, which may decide to withdraw them.

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