I understand the concern - in a world where scientists are judged on the basis of journal citations, anything that might interfere with getting one is scary. But these concerns should be addressed at journals, not at @biorxivpreprint or overlay journals being created around it.
We made a decision @eLife not to do unsolicited reviews because we view what we do as in large part a collaboration with the authors to improve their work. And we let authors control when their reviews get posted so they don't worry they'll interfere w/publishing their paper.
But at same time, we see the presence of reviews published by others as augmenting, not interfering w/ this process. We'll give authors a chance to respond & have great confidence that our editors can integrate this information into the review process fairly and conscientiously.
We already routinely evaluate papers based on reviews from other journals, with the full knowledge that we're seeing these reviews because the paper was rejected. And yet we publish many of these papers because we listed to the authors' response and make our own decisions.
It's also not uncommon for us to publish a paper even if one of our chosen reviewers is highly critical of the work, because sometimes the other reviewers and/or editor do not agree. So it's not like we just see a negative review and run away.
It's not that I don't think some unsolicited reviews will sometimes lead some journals to reject papers that they would have otherwise published.
Sometimes this will be because the unsolicited reviewer raised important issues that the authors couldn't adequately address. And while authors might not like this, it's hard to argue science isn't made better as a result.
But if a journal starts to reject papers simply because there are negative reviews online, then isn't the problem with the journal & not with preprints and overlays? Shouldn't we be putting pressure on journals not to do this rather than trying to kill overlays in their infancy?
I do think there are real and serious challenges here - my biggest fear is that people will secretly solicit highly positive "unsolicited" reviews - and we need to closely follow what happens, address any issues quickly and make sure the system treats people fairly.
But I strongly believe preprints and overlays are good for scientists and science if done right, and we need to focus on making sure they are done right rather.

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More from @mbeisen

22 Dec
Editor: I am your editor.
Author: Well, I didn't ask you to edit my paper.
E: You don’t choose your editor.
A: Well how'd you become editor, then?
E: @ladyofthelake, whose profile says their science shimmers like the purest samite, held aloft your preprint from the bosom of bioRxiv, signifying by divine providence that I was to oversee its review. That is why I am your Editor.
A: Listen. Strange scientists in labs distributing preprints is no basis for a system of publication. Supreme editorial power derives from a mandate from the authors, not from some farcical acceptance ceremony.
Read 5 tweets
21 Dec
why do people treat current peer review system as if it was optimized to help authors and advance science when its primary features - pre-publication review by 2-3 people, binary decisions, exclusive publication rights - are products of limitations of the technology of the day?
the system has its uses - and we have so completely integrated it into the structures of scientific careers that it is difficult to change it - but can we not at least try to imagine a better system, one that is designed to function in the 2020s instead of the 1870s?
imagine you were charged with designing a system of science community and peer review in the alternative universe where the internet was invented before the printing press - what would such a system look like?
Read 6 tweets
1 Dec
While we talk about the future of science publishing, we need to also have a conversation about how to fund it. The problems with the subscription model is obvious and needs no elaboration. But it's clear that the APC/author pays model doesn't really work either.
Back at the dawn of the #openaccess era, when @BioMedCentral and @PLOS adopted APCs, we knew it was imperfect, but it was the only viable way to cover costs that didn't require locking papers behind paywalls.
It was our expectation that this was a transitional state - that the funders who ultimately provide the money for science publishing would realize that it doesn't make sense to fund research infrastructure like publishing with transaction fees of any kind.
Read 10 tweets
1 Dec
I am excited to announce today that @eLife is transitioning to a new model based on author-driven publishing (preprints) and public post-publication peer review and curation elifesciences.org/articles/64910…
Our moves are designed to catalyze the desperately needed transition of science from the slow, exclusive, and expensive "review then publish" model born with the printing press to a "publish then review" model optimized for the Internet.
We have been inspired by the embrace of preprinting by our community. A recent internet audit showed that the authors of 70% of papers under review @eLife had already published their work on @biorxivpreprint @medrxivpreprint or arXiv.
Read 17 tweets
19 Nov
Vaccine, Vaccine, Vaccine, Vaccine
I’m begging of you take it when you can
Vaccine, Vaccine, Vaccine, Vaccine
Please take it just because you can
COVID symptoms often lead to death
With flaming head and no more breath
With pallid skin and loss of taste and smell.
It shut down schools and businesses
And made us all social distance
But it cannot compete with my
Just two small shots of RNA
Will keep this bad virus at bay
Thanks to the scientists for making this
Read 7 tweets
3 Sep
Like many people, I've been thinking a lot about the Electoral College, and more specifically the "National Popular Vote" movement, and a disturbing/terrifying idea occurred to me.
For those who don't know, there is an ongoing effort to getting states to agree to allocate their electors to the winner of the national popular vote provided that enough other states agree to ensure the NPV winner would get the 270 electoral votes needed to win.
I like the approach of hacking the Electoral College, since actually eliminating it would require a constitutional amendment that would be much more difficult to pass. But it is probably doomed to failure since there is not a good incentive for enough states to sign on.
Read 18 tweets

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