September 30, 2019 -- EMBO Press and ASAPbio announced on September 30, 2019, that they have partnered to create Review Commons, a brand-new platform to facilitate preprint peer review prior to manuscript submission. The site will be launched in December 2019.

Review Commons will allow manuscripts to be reviewed independent of specific journals and based solely on scientific rigor and merit. Authors will be able to publicly post reviews and comments on bioRxiv, a well-known preprint server and subsequently submit their revised manuscript to affiliated journals.

In the current model of peer review publishing, reviewers evaluate manuscripts after submission to a journal. In addition to scientific merit, the manuscript is also subjected to subjective journal criteria. Because of the specialized requirements of each journal, if a manuscript is rejected, it typically does not go on to be published in a different journal. Therefore, journal rejections across disciplines waste around 15 million hours of reviewer time each year and contribute to extended delays for authors and readers.

In order to address these concerns, Review Commons was created to accelerate and streamline peer review publishing by providing high-quality, in-depth peer review of manuscripts before submission. Reviewers will evaluate manuscripts on technical rigor, make suggestions for improvements, and comment on value that the manuscript brings to specific scientific communities. This review process can be posted to bioRxiv's new Transparent Review in Preprints (TRiP) project, to provide rich context to readers of the preprint. If the author decides to move forward with submission, the system will suggest efficient editorial decisions based on comments.

A consortium of seventeen journals from six different publishers have joined the efforts by committing to use the Review Commons referee reports for their independent editorial decisions and seek minimal additional expert input.

Manuscripts that are rejected by editors at affiliated journals can still be submitted to additional journals. In this way, Review Commons reduces re-reviewing and accelerates publishing.

This project is supported by a grant to ASAPbio from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and is operated by EMBO Press. During the initial phase, partners will monitor the efficacy of the service and share the results with the community to promote broader improvements to the peer review process. After this, and as warranted, Review Commons could expand to include additional partners to include both journals and preprint servers.

"Review Commons has the potential to demonstrate a path toward a more open, time- and resource-efficient future for scholarly communication, as well as being compatible with the existing journals' publishing system," said Ron Vale, President of ASAPbio.

Affiliated journals include:

  • American Society for Cell Biology: Molecular Biology of the Cell
  • Company of Biologists: Development, Journal of Cell Science, Disease Models & Mechanisms, Biology Open
  • EMBO Press: The EMBO Journal, EMBO reports, Molecular Systems Biology, EMBO Molecular Medicine
  • eLife
  • Life Science Alliance
  • PLOS: PLOS Biology, PLOS Computational Biology, PLOS Genetics, PLOS Pathogens, PLOS ONE
  • Rockefeller University Press: Journal of Cell Biology

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