BMC continues to transform peer review, cutting out waste and speeding up the process

BMC, the first publisher to openly post named peer reviewer reports alongside articles, is announcing the launch of a formal portable peer review policy on BMC Biology. The policy aims to speed up the peer review process and decrease waste in publishing.

‘Portable peer review’ is the idea that if a manuscript is rejected from a journal for reasons other than being scientifically unsound (for example, perhaps the subject matter does not fit the journal’s remit) the peer review reports can be transferred elsewhere and re-used by others.  

Dr Mirna Kvajo, Chief Editor of BMC Biology said: “We know academics’ time is precious, whether they are writing reviewer reports, or trying to find the right journal for publication. BMC has long been supportive of the idea of re-using peer review reports, in the hope that it will save time and effort for researchers, while reducing waste in the publishing process.”

BMC Biology has for years supported portable peer review practices, and recently also joined the NPRC alliance, a consortium of more than 60 journals committed to improving peer review in neuroscience.

Dr Kvajo adds: “With this new policy,  we want to be forthright about the advantages of portable peer review, and prompt authors to  consider bringing us their manuscripts with reports from other journals (along with reviewers’ identities, subject to their approval). In token, we’re happy to allow authors to take their reviewer reports from BMC Biology with them to other journals, including those outside of BMC and Springer Nature.”

The new Transfers and Portable Reviews Policy can be found on the BMC Biology website. 

In May 2017, our report What might peer review look like in 2030? was published with Digital Science. Two of our recommendations were that publishers should:

–          Experiment with different and new models of peer review, particularly those that increase transparency

–          Work towards cross-publisher solutions that improve efficiency and benefit all stakeholders. Portable peer review has not taken off at any scale, but could make the publishing process more efficient for all involved.

In addition, in November BMC published the results of its transparent peer review trial. The trial found that there was no significant difference in the meantime to first decision between transparent review and single-blind review. For both sides of the trial, the average number of reviewers invited for each who accepted was 3.1.