August 28, 2013
Libre – a new way to peer-review scientific papers?
The importance and editorial requirements with regards to peer-review are commonly discussed by scientists, specifically so in the context of Open Access. The question I have been busy with recently (bothering as many journal editors as I could reach): “Does OA journal need editors and what is the role of them in whole process?” yielded a firm conclusion: Open Access journals and books need peer-review. Full stop. It doesn’t mean, however, there is a consensus on how the peer-review process should be like in the Open Access environment? Is the current process of peer-review for articles and books sustainable? A new project seems to be at odds with the status quo offering a truly innovative model of the peer-review.
Libre is a startup which, in short, wants to change the way how the process of peer-review looks like. It is a free platform which aims at “entrusting research evaluation and communication directly to the members of the scientific community.” Still, it is not a mega-journal or anything like that. It is more like portal for scientists where they can upload their papers to be peer-reviewed by fellow specialist scientists but also, to be read and evaluated by users. How it works? The researcher adds its paper to the platform. Then the paper is peer-reviewed by other scientists who represent the same field of science. The latter add their reviews to the original content. Other users can comment and rank the paper. Easy! Basing on this process, Libre, additionally, offers the metrics and stats for the authors. The goal is to make science more open access and to embed scientific paper in the social context (Cue Altmetrics…). In fact, Libre want to diversify the sources of peer-review to make it more transparent. The concept relies on the good will and the cooperation of scientists. The idea is explained in this short promo-movie:
Is it workable, is this the future of peer-review as we know it? Hard to say, but I am tempted to see a very compelling side to this venture. Basically, the fundamental idea of peer-review remains intact. The article is reviewed by other scientists who do that free of charge. But in this concept, there is a more democratic approach to the selection of editors and its activity is more transparent. And indeed, it is a very lack of transparency that earned the grudge for the today’s peer review among many scientists.