Publishers join Blockchain for Peer Review project

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Taylor & Francis Group and Cambridge University Press have joined a pilot project to test blockchain technologies applications to peer review.

The initiative, announced in March, focuses on the problems of research reproducibility, recognition of reviewers and the rising burden of the peer-review process. 

The project aims to develop a protocol where information about peer review activities (submitted by publishers) are stored on a blockchain. This will allow the review process to be independently validated, and data to be fed to relevant vehicles to ensure recognition and validation for reviewers. By sharing peer review information, while adhering to laws on privacy, data protection and confidentiality, the project is hoped to foster innovation and increase interoperability.

Taylor & Francis and Cambridge University Press join Springer Nature as publisher partners. All three organisations will share key information around publisher and peer review workflows, and make a number of journals available to the pilot for development purposes. Katalysis will provide technical expertise to the creation of the test platform and ORCID will share insights on personal identifiers and authentication. Digital Science will continue to manage this non-commercial industry initiative.

Deborah Kahn, publishing director and lead on the project for Taylor & Francis, said: 'At a time when trust and transparency are increasingly important, high-quality peer review is fundamental to the scholarly communication process. The use of blockchain to help to solve some of the current challenges in peer review is a timely initiative, and we are delighted to be able to contribute to its success.'

Brigitte Shull, director of scholarly communications R&D from Cambridge University Press, said: 'Peer review is one of the most vital services we provide to the academic communities we work with and this includes the exploration of new technologies and processes where it offers an opportunity for better peer review outcomes. We are excited to learn more about the ways in which blockchain applications will help us to innovate and evolve as an industry.'

Joris van Rossum, director of special projects at Digital Science and project lead, commented: ‘I’m delighted that CUP and Taylor & Francis have joined the initiative at this early stage. Together with Springer Nature, we now have a fantastic group of publishers representing a full range of academic subjects and a variety of peer review models. This kind of partnership is vital to industry wide pilots, and allows us to effectively investigate the potential of blockchain to improve the peer review process.’

As reported in Research Information in November, Digital Science's report, Blockchain for Research: Perspectives on a New Paradigm for Scholarly Communication, explored the impact the technology could have on scholarly communication and research.