Biophysics Colab to move to full ‘Publish, Review, Curate’ service

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Biophysics Colab has announced that it will shift to a full ‘Publish, Review, Curate’ (PRC) model later this year, in partnership with eLife. Their expanded service will provide authors with an alternative option to traditional journals for the review and dissemination of their work.

Biophysics Colab is an international collaboration of biophysicists working to improve the way original research is evaluated. The group has been running a preprint review trial since 2019, which has proved popular among authors due to its service-oriented approach that focuses wholly on authors’ best interests. Now, Biophysics Colab is building upon this service by giving authors the option to create a final ‘version of record’ – equivalent to a journal article – after peer review of their preprint. This curation step will complete Biophysics Colab’s vision of a community-run PRC service.

Kenton Swartz, Editor-in-Chief of Biophysics Colab, says: “We are excited to advance this new PRC model, which enables the biophysics community to deploy their scientific expertise and provide authors with a collegial and non-adversarial service to validate their research. In the future, we will leverage this model to establish new peer-review communities that can rapidly communicate other areas of research.”

Biophysics Colab is the first endeavour of the open science publishing initiative, Science Colab – a non-profit, community-run project supported by eLife, with a mission to add value and credibility to the scientific literature in a way that supports and benefits the community. Both Science Colab and the non-profit eLife share a similar vision of a publishing ecosystem in which the significance of research is recognised independently of journal title.

The peer-review service offered by Biophysics Colab is founded on equitability, inclusiveness and transparency. Its collaborative process involves diverse teams of reviewers – ranging from early-career researchers to senior scientists – who identify preprints of interest and provide constructive and collegiate feedback to authors. A curator oversees this process, which results in a single, efficient, consolidated report that 96% of reviewers have chosen to publicly sign. As an acknowledgement for their time and expertise, Biophysics Colab pays a nominal sum to both curators and reviewers for each preprint they review.

A number of authors have commented on the positive impact that Biophysics Colab’s review process has had on their work. Zheng Shi, Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Rutgers University, USA, says: “We are very grateful to the curators and reviewers at Biophysics Colab for taking note of our preprint and providing a really helpful report. Their numerous suggestions were invaluable as we revised our manuscript. I look forward to seeing how Biophysics Colab will further transform academic publishing.”

The collaboratory will soon begin to formally validate reviewed preprints as versions of record – a citable record of the final version of the work. However, authors submitting preprints to Biophysics Colab will remain in control of their study, choosing when to declare it as final. This reflects eLife’s new publishing model and makes Biophysics Colab the first group to adopt a flavour of it.

Several curators for Biophysics Colab are attending the 67th Biophysical Society Annual Meeting in San Diego from Feb 18–22, where they will be talking to delegates and answering questions about their new PRC service. They will be available at the eLife booth between 1–3pm PST on the days of the exhibit. Further details about the launch date for the new workflow and call for submissions will follow in the summer.

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