In Review: a new way to open up the submissions and peer review process

A manuscript is much more than words on paper. Painstakingly drafted, fuelled by coffee over long nights, then (constructively) dismantled by colleagues, re-drafted several times, and finally, assembled into something you’re proud of. It is the culmination of months or years of hard work, and could potentially lead to recognition for you and your whole team.

It seems incongruous that once you press the ‘submit to journal’ button, your article disappears into a publishing process that can be opaque, and hard for even the most experienced researchers to navigate. And the first time you receive feedback on your manuscript from outside your immediate circle, it is in the high-stakes setting of peer review.

That’s why we’ve created a new service, In Review. Powered by Research Square, In Review offers authors a personal dashboard to easily track the status of their manuscript, and the opportunity to share it with the wider community earlier in the submission and peer review process. In the first instance, this service will be available across four BMC journals.* At BMC, we are always looking for new ways to experiment and improve the publishing process, and we think this new service will be invaluable for those seeking more transparency and control over their manuscript.

By using In Review authors will be able to:

  • Share their work while it is under review and engage the wider community in discussion (through the Hypothes.is open annotation tool)
  • Track the status of their manuscript on a more granular level – including number of reviewers invited, number of reports received, and immediate access to reviewer reports
  • Demonstrate the integrity of their work with a transparent editorial checklist
  • Benefit from early sharing, including potential for earlier citations and collaboration opportunities

The wider research community will be able to:

  • Follow, and comment on, emerging science
  • Find new discoveries with fully-indexed search
  • Note which editorial checks the manuscript has already passed
  • Gain insight into the peer review pipeline of a particular manuscript

The theme of Open Access Week, coming up next week, is ‘Designing Equitable Foundations for Open Knowledge.’ This is particularly apt, as In Review will offer an open and equitable foundation for the submissions and publishing process. We will be monitoring the success of In Review and author feedback, and will report back to the community in due course.

We’d love to hear what you think, and whether you’d consider using a service like In Review when you next hit the submit button.

See our first article live on the Trials – In Review page here, and read more at Research Square.

*BMC Neurology, BMC Anesthesiology, BMC Ophthalmology, and Trials.

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