How does it work?

 
For authors
For recommenders
For reviewers


For authors

 

Peer Community in Ecology (PCI Ecology) reviews and recommends preprints, as complete, reliable and citable articles, without the need for their publication in ‘traditional’ journals. Evaluation and recommendation by PCI Ecology are free of charge.

The processes of publication in a traditional journal and recommendation by PCI Ecology are not exclusive: a preprint can be submitted to a journal after its evaluation by PCI Ecology. However, simultaneous submission to a journal and to PCI Ecology is not permitted. Indeed, preprints submitted to PCI Ecology must not be published or submitted for publication elsewhere until the PCI Ecology evaluation process has been completed. The preprint must, therefore, have been rejected or recommended by PCI Ecology before it can be submitted to a journal.

The process of preprint recommendation by PCI Ecology is very similar to the process of article publication in ‘traditional’ journals. Just like journal editors, the recommenders appointed by PCI Ecology handle preprints: they are responsible for finding reviewers, collecting reviews, and making editorial decisions based on reviews. They may eventually recommend preprints after one or several rounds of review.

When a recommender decides to recommend a preprint, he/she writes a recommendation. This recommendation is essentially a short article, similar to a News & Views piece, describing the context of the study and explaining why this preprint is particularly interesting. This recommendation and all the editorial correspondence (reviews, recommender's decisions, authors’ replies) associated with the recommended preprint are published by PCI Ecology. The preprint itself remains in the open archive and is not published by PCI Ecology.

The recommendation by PCI Ecology increases the value of the recommended preprint. Recommended preprints can be used by scientists and cited in the scientific literature. There is no need for these recommended preprints to be published in traditional journals (although they can be, according to the authors’ preferences).

As PCI Ecology does not copy-edit preprints, authors should pay careful attention to typographical and other errors. A recommended preprint should be as close to perfect as possible in form because it is a finished article. The presence of all tables and figures, additional materials and accessibility of the data must be checked.

PCI Ecology publishes the recommendations written by recommenders, but we do not host and format the preprints we recommend. Instead, we simply link the recommendation to preprints posted on preprint servers, such as bioRxiv or arXiv. The costs of the process of evaluation and recommendation and of hosting the website are very low. As a result, there are no charges for authors (or for readers, because the recommended preprints can be downloaded, for free, from preprint servers).


Before submitting a preprint

Before submitting a preprint, authors should pay attention to the following points:

-Authors must have no financial conflict of interest relating to the preprint they are about to submit. The preprint must contain a "Conflict of interest disclosure" paragraph before the reference section containing this sentence: "The authors of this preprint declare that they have no financial conflict of interest with the content of this article."

-Authors must pay attention to the form of the text, figures and tables, and must check for typographical errors, in particular. Authors must also ensure that all tables, figures and supplementary materials are available and correctly numbered.

-Data for preprints must be available to readers after recommendation, in the preprint or through deposition in an open data repository, such as Zenodo, Dryad or institutional repositories, for example.

-Details of the quantitative analyses (e.g. data treatment and statistical scripts in R, bioinformatic pipeline scripts, etc.) in the recommended preprints must be available to readers in the text or as appendices or supplementary materials, for example.

-Details of the experimental procedures in the recommended preprints must be available to readers.

-No specific format is required but lines must be numbered and tables and figures must be located in the main text, not at the end of the manuscript.


Submitting a preprint

To submit an article, you should first post it on a preprint server, such as bioRxiv or arXiv. When the article has appeared on this server, click on the “Submit preprint” button on our website home page, for access to a very simple submission process.

During the submission process, you will have the option of suggesting recommenders who could handle the evaluation of your preprint. A recommender is very similar to a journal editor. He/she is responsible for finding reviewers, collecting reviews, and making editorial decisions based on reviews. He/she may eventually recommend your preprint after one or several rounds of review.

Note that PCI Ecology is under no obligation to consider your submitted preprint. Only submitted preprints selected by a recommender enter the evaluation process. Although we cannot guarantee that your preprint will be reviewed, all possible efforts will be made to make this possible.

If for some reason you have difficulty with the submission process, please contact us at contact@ecology.peercommunityin.org


The evaluation & recommendation process

  1. Once the Managing Board has validated your submission, the recommenders you suggest will receive an alert, drawing their attention to your preprint.
  2. We cannot guarantee that your preprint will be reviewed, but all possible efforts will be made to make this possible. If no recommender – including all recommenders in your field of expertise – has initiated the evaluation of your preprint after 20 days, you will be notified by e-mail. If this happens, we suggest that you cancel your submission.
  3. Alternatively, a recommender, finding your preprint particularly interesting, can decide to initiate the evaluation process. In this case, you will be notified by e-mail. The recommender will invite reviewers, so as to obtain at least two high-quality reviews. Note that the recommender and reviewers must declare that they have no conflict of interest of any kind with the content or the authors of your preprint – see the code of conduct.
  4. One or several classic cycles of reviews/decision/authors’ response follow, eventually leading to the recommendation or rejection of the preprint. At each round of review, the recommender may decide to reject or recommend your preprint. Alternatively, he/she may ask you to revise your preprint, generating another round of reviews. The recommender signs all decisions, and reviewers may choose to remain anonymous or to sign their reviews. The mean time to the first decision is 50 days.
  5. If the recommender eventually decides to reject your preprint, the reviews and decision will be sent to you but will not be published or publicly released by PCI Ecology. They will be safely stored in our database, to which only the Managing Board has access.
  6. Alternatively, if the recommender decides to recommend your preprint, PCI Ecology publishes a “recommendation” of your preprint. This recommendation is a short article, written and signed by the recommender, similar to a News & Views piece, describing the context of your study and explaining why the recommender found your preprint is particularly interesting. PCI Ecology will also publish all the editorial correspondence (reviews, recommender's decisions, authors’ replies).
  7. Before the recommendation of your preprint goes online, you will be asked to upload a new version of your preprint onto the preprint server with a PCI Ecology cover page and a modified abstract citing the PCI Ecology recommendation text and its DOI.
  8. Once PCI Ecology has published the recommendation text, your preprint becomes a valid reference that can be used by scientists and cited in scientific publications. There is no longer a need to publish your preprint in a ‘traditional’ journals, although you remain free to do so if you wish.

↑


For recommenders

 

PCI Ecology recommenders primarily handle the evaluation of preprints submitted to PCI Ecology. The role of the recommender in the handling of submitted preprints is similar to that of a journal editor: finding reviewers, obtaining peer reviews, making editorial decisions based on these reviews. These evaluations, which can necessitate several rounds of reviews, should lead the recommender to a decision as to whether to reject or recommend the submitted preprints.

If, after the peer-review process, the recommender eventually decides to recommend a preprint, he/she will need to write a recommendation text. This text takes the form of a short article, similar to a News & Views piece, explaining why the preprint is particularly interesting. This recommendation text and all the editorial correspondence (reviews, recommender's decisions, authors’ replies) associated with the recommended preprint are published by PCI Ecology.

The recommendation of a preprint increases the value of the article. Recommended preprints can be used by scientists and cited in the scientific literature. Hence, authors no longer need to publish their recommended preprints in ‘traditional’ journals, although they remain free to do so, if they wish.

As PCI Ecology does not copy-edit the preprints, PCI Ecology recommenders must pay attention to typographical and other errors. A recommended preprint must be as close to perfect as possible in terms of its form, because it is a completed final article. The presence of all tables and figures, additional materials and accessibility of the data must be checked.

A PCI Ecology recommender can also recommend postprints, to highlight particularly interesting articles already published in a journal. As postprints have already been peer-reviewed, there is no need for further peer review. A PCI Ecology recommender simply has to write a recommendation text. This text is a short article, similar to a News & Views piece, explaining why the postprint is particularly interesting. This recommendation text must be co-signed by another PCI Ecology recommender and is then published by PCI Ecology.

Recommendation texts written by PCI Ecology recommenders appear on their personal page on the PCI Ecology website.

Being a recommender for a PCI is not associated with a substantial workload. You decide which preprints to handle and which postprints to recommend. Most recommenders handle no more than two articles per year.


Evaluating & recommending a preprint

  1. Authors can suggest recommenders when they submit their preprints. If you are among the suggested recommenders, you will receive an alert by e-mail.
  2. If you have time to handle the preprint, if you have no conflict of interest of any kind with the content or with the authors of the preprint and if, and only if, you consider it sufficiently interesting, you can start the evaluation process. You will then be responsible for managing the evaluation process until you reach a final decision (i.e. recommend or reject the preprint).
  3. If you start the evaluation process of a preprint, you will play a role very similar to that of a journal editor: finding at least two reviewers, collecting reviews, taking editorial decisions based on reviews. The evaluation process often requires several review/decision/author response cycles. After each round of review, you can decide whether to reject or recommend the preprint. Alternatively, you can decide to ask the authors to revise their preprint, thus generating another round of reviews. As a recommender, you will sign all decisions sent to the authors. Reviewers may choose to remain anonymous or to sign their reviews. Reviewers are expected to write their reviews within 3 weeks and, once the reviews have been completed, you will be expected to take your decision within 10 days.
  4. If you eventually decide to reject the preprint, the reviews and decision will be sent to the authors but will not be published or publicly released by PCI Ecology. They will be safely stored in our database, to which only the Managing Board has access.
  5. Alternatively, if you decide to recommend the preprint, you will need to write a “recommendation”, which will have its own DOI and be published by PCI Ecology under the license CC-BY-ND. The recommendation is a short article, similar to a News & Views piece. It has its own title, contains between about 300 and 1500 words, describes the context and explains why the preprint is particularly interesting. The limitations of the preprint can also be discussed. This text also contains references (at least the reference of the preprint recommended). All the editorial correspondence (reviews, your decisions, authors’ replies) will also be published by PCI Ecology.
  6. Once PCI Ecology publishes your recommendation text, the preprint can be considered a high-value article. Recommended preprints can be used by scientists and cited in the scientific literature. The authors no longer need to publish the preprint in a ‘traditional’ journal, although they remain free to do so, if they wish.

Recommending a postprint

  1. You find an article published in a journal particularly interesting and you wish to recommend it.
  2. You first have to find a second recommender within PCI Ecology, on the basis of his/her expertise, to write a joint recommendation of this postprint. You and your co-recommender must declare that you have no conflict of interest of any kind with the content or with the authors of the postprint.
  3. You then need to write a “recommendation”, which will have its own DOI and be published by PCI Ecology under the license CC-BY-ND. The recommendation is a short article, similar to a News & Views piece. It has its own title, contains between about 300 and 1500 words, describes the context and explains why the postprint is particularly interesting. The limitations of the postprint can also be discussed. This text also contains references (at least the reference of the postprint recommended). No detailed review is required because the postprint was reviewed before its publication.

↑


For reviewers

 

Researchers in ecology may be asked to review preprints submitted to PCI Ecology. Request to review preprints are sent by the PCI Ecology recommenders in charge of the evaluation process for the submitted preprints. These recommenders handle preprints in a similar manner to journal editors: they find reviewers, obtain at least two peer reviews and make editorial decisions based on these reviews. These evaluations, which can necessitate several rounds of reviews, guide the decision as to reject or recommend the submitted preprints. By recommending a preprint, a recommender indicates to the community that this preprint is of high value, can be used by scientists and cited in the scientific literature.

Reviewers must declare that they have no conflict of interest of any kind with the content or with the authors of the preprint. They can decide to remain anonymous and may therefore choose whether to sign their reviews.

As PCI Ecology does not copy-edit preprints, reviewers should pay careful attention to typographical and other errors. A recommended preprint should be as close to perfect as possible in form because it is a finished article. The presence of all tables and figures, additional materials and accessibility of the data must be checked.

Following the first round of review, a recommender can decide to ask the authors to revise their preprint. If the authors submit a revised version, the reviewers who performed the first round of reviews are often solicited again for evaluation of the revised version and the reply to their comments.

If, after one or several round of review, the recommender eventually decides to reject a preprint, reviews will be sent to the authors but will not be published or publicly released by PCI Ecology. They will be safely stored in our database, to which only the Managing Board has access. Alternatively, if the recommender decides to recommend a preprint, he/she writes a recommendation text explaining why the preprint is interesting. The reviews, the recommendation text and all the editorial correspondence (decisions, authors’ replies) are then published by PCI Ecology, to make the evaluation process transparent.

When reviewers are also PCI Ecology recommenders, their reviews appear on their personal page on the PCI Ecology website, provided that they have not chosen to remain anonymous.


Reviewing a preprint

  1. A PCI Ecology recommender may invite you to review a preprint. If so, you will receive an alert by e-mail containing a link to the PCI Ecology website to allow you to decline or accept this invitation. If you are willing to review the preprint, you will first have to certify that you have no conflict of interest of any kind with the content or with the authors of the preprint.
  2. Once you have agreed to review a preprint, you are expected to write your review within three weeks. The format of the reviews is similar to those required for ‘traditional’ journals. Please bear in mind that your reviews will be published if the preprint is recommended.
  3. Once you have completed your review, you can copy/paste or upload it onto the PCI Ecology website. At this stage, you can indicate whether or not you wish to remain anonymous.
  4. Based on the various reviews obtained, the recommender must come to a decision within about 10 days. This decision and all the reviews are sent to the authors.
  5. The recommender can decide to ask the authors to revise their preprint. The recommender may therefore subsequently contact you again to ask you to evaluate a revised version of the preprint and the author’s replies to your comments and those of the other reviewers.
  6. If, after one or several round of review, the recommender eventually decides to reject the preprint, your review(s) will NOT be published or publicly released by PCI Ecology. They will be safely stored in our database, to which only the Managing Board has access.
  7. Alternatively, if the recommender eventually decides to recommend the preprint, all the editorial correspondence (decisions, authors’ replies, all reviews, including yours) will be published by PCI Ecology, to make the evaluation process transparent.

↑