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Libre – a new way to peer-review scientific papers?

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Libre Open Access

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.

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  1. I introduce to you my software platform that I have developed in the past weeks, motivated by my own experience as a PhD student:

    DocRev –

    Briefly, the idea is to transfer the effort of reviewing documents to a crowd-sourced platform: a user provides feedback to other users’ documents, and in return obtains feedback for his own documents.

    My motivation stems from “yet another review” of a research paper of my own that I had already read many times for re-submission. At the time I was already so fed up of reading it that I’d rather read someone else’s work instead, hoping that another person would instead read my own work.
    Not only would that be refreshing, not to be reading always the same thing and maybe learn something new, but it would also be way more productive to catch problems in the document with a fresh pair of eyes.

    In fact, this is just a use case specific to research, but I believe the concept is applicable to any area and types of documents. Examples:

    – Send a formal letter to a lawyer, which requires familiarity with certain terms. Why not ask a law student or even a young lawyer to look at it in exchange for our own expertise?

    – Maybe you wrote a blog post or some meaningful content and would like to get some feedback before publishing it.

    – You have some work in progress in a specific area for which you know no one and would love some feedback.

    – Camera-ready research papers, which you have read countless times, but that probably still have some bugs/typos.

    – You are sending an application to a job offer / grant / project, and would love a review of it.

    If you are still reading, then I really encourage you to try it out:

    DocRev –

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