eLife and PREreview to adopt COAR Notify

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eLife and PREreview have announced that the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR) will provide them with technical and funding support to implement the COAR Notify technology. With this support, the organisations will work to connect separate services within the ‘publish, review, curate’ ecosystem.

The project will put in place the basic infrastructure and protocols needed for all-round and standardised connections between preprint repositories, community-led preprint review platforms, journals, and preprint review aggregation and curation platforms. The aim is to lower existing technological and cost barriers so that as many of these services as possible can more easily participate in the ‘publish, review, curate’ future for research.

The COAR Notify Initiative, launched by COAR in 2021 and 2022, was awarded funding by Arcadia – a charitable foundation that works to protect nature, preserve cultural heritage and promote open access to knowledge. The aim of the COAR Notify Initiative is to promote community adoption of a standard and decentralised approach to link research outputs that are hosted in different repository networks with resources from external services, such as overlay journals and groups that provide open peer review. This approach makes use of the COAR Notify Protocol – the ‘technical glue’ that connects these services together, and is based on established web-based technologies Linked Data Notifications and Activity Streams. eLife and PREreview will adopt this approach within their systems to support the ‘publish, review, curate’ model that puts preprints first.

As a flavour of this model, eLife publishes preprints that it invites for review as Reviewed Preprints, alongside the public reviews and eLife assessment of the work. The assessment includes a shared vocabulary, adding a 'curate' component to the model. For the accompanying infrastructure, the organisation is working with Coko to develop Kotahi, an open-source platform for managing the submission and review of preprints. Meanwhile, PREreview provides a website for the crowdsourcing of preprint reviews, and is one of a number of reviewing groups on Sciety – a website developed by the team at eLife to aggregate evaluated preprints from across the web into one place.

Partners for more than two years, eLife and PREreview have a common goal to promote community engagement in open peer review. PREreview engages the whole scientific community with collaborative and constructive full-length peer reviews of preprints. These preprint reviews are openly available for anyone to read, including editors and publishers who may consider the work for formal publication in a journal. The COAR Notify Initiative aligns with both PREreview and eLife’s goals by providing a standard approach for linking preprints hosted on different platforms with groups that provide open review.

By implementing the COAR Notify Protocol into bioRxiv/medRxiv, SciELO Preprints, Kotahi, PREreview, Sciety and other platforms, the partners aim to serve three workflows in the ‘publish, review, curate’ ecosystem. These include: author-driven requests for open, community-led peer review of their preprint; journal-driven requests for open, community-led peer review of a manuscript or preprint submitted to them for review and publication; and the ingestion and display of aggregated preprint review requests from multiple sources – that is, preprint servers including bioRxiv and other repositories – as well as resulting reviews published across preprint review platforms such as Sciety.

Paul Shannon, eLife Head of Technology and Innovation, said: “Some preprint platforms, like SciELO Preprints, have previously experimented with the ability for preprint authors to click a button that requests a peer review from PREreview. The problem is that these solutions were specific to the service and not easily reused by others. COAR has developed a protocol based on open standards which will enable us to harness the power of open-source technology to provide a solution that works for those services, and many more besides. This adds to the ‘publish, review, curate’ ecosystem and makes the technology available for other reviewing groups and organisations that wish to implement and build upon it.”

Chad Sansing, Product Manager at PREreview, added: “We’re excited to pilot this work with eLife, COAR, and preprint servers like biorXiv and SciELO Preprints to further improve the timeliness and helpfulness of peer preprint reviews for preprint authors from around the world.”