Measured Innovation In Peer Review

Steve Kolowich | Inside Higher Ed | November 1, 2012

Conversations about the future of academic publishing often revolve around the pros and cons of open peer review. Would a new mechanism for vetting research that relies on the wisdom of crowds, rather than a select few editors and reviewers, lead to a scholarly renaissance or to chaos?

Now several publishers are trying to find a balance. Drawing from both the traditional peer review and open-access models, PeerJ and Rubriq are looking to use the architecture of the Web to build community-oriented platforms that are accessible and empowering, yet stable and habitable — walled gardens, but with windows that open from the outside.

For PeerJ — launched in May by Peter Binfield, the former publisher of the popular open-access journal PLoS One — that means giving researchers a membership stake in the publications. Instead of charging authors for each paper they submit, or charging readers who want to view the final versions, PeerJ asks authors to pay membership fees — between $100 and $300 for a "lifetime" membership — that allow them to submit multiple papers while also obligating them to review papers submitted by other members (at the risk of having their membership lapse)...