Maximizing peer review efforts more important than ever

Peer review – with all its challenges – remains essential to the integrity and robustness of the editorial process. However, peer review takes time and effort, which should not be wasted, especially in the context of vital COVID-19 research that requires rapid dissemination.

Portable peer review

Following in the footsteps of their sister journals, Genome Biology and BMC Biology, Genome Medicine and BMC Medicine have adopted a portable peer review policy. This means that the journals are open to considering manuscripts on the basis of reviews received at other journals, including those outside of Springer Nature. Conversely, they facilitate the transfer of manuscripts to journals within and outside Springer Nature by sharing reviews and reviewers’ identities at the authors’ request, and subject to the reviewers’ approval.

Adopting portable peer review is timely for several reasons. First, the additional pressure on researchers’ time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic has limited their ability to accept peer review requests. Some researchers are juggling their day job with caring responsibilities, while others with a clinical background are needed in hospitals to care for patients, and those involved in COVID-19-related research are working around the clock. Second, journals and preprint servers have seen a surge in COVID-19 related submissions since the start of the pandemic, and the need to peer review and share COVID-19 research quickly, efficiently and as openly as possible is in the public interest.

C19 Rapid Review Initiative

I am therefore delighted to announce that BMC Medicine and Genome Medicine have joined the C19 Rapid Review cross-publishers initiative, which is endorsed by the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) – see press release. As part of the initiative, academics with suitable expertise relevant to COVID-19 are encouraged to sign up to a rapid reviewer database and commit to rapid reviewing times. In turn, authors are encouraged to deposit their submission to a preprint server and work with journals to make their peer-reviewed article and dataset available as quickly as possible.

These joint efforts by reviewers, authors, editors and publishers are intended to openly and rapidly share and review COVID-19 research.

As a publisher we encourage early sharing of research submitted to our journals through preprint servers, and the BMC Medicine and Genome Medicine editors will consider pertinent comments on COVID-19 preprints during the peer-review process. In addition, as part of the editorial policy on availability of data and materials, submission to a BMC journal implies that all materials and data are available, and all manuscripts must include an ‘Availability of Data and Materials’ section detailing where the data supporting their findings can be found.

These joint efforts by reviewers, authors, editors and publishers are intended to openly and rapidly share and review COVID-19 research.

As a signatory of the joint statement, Sharing research data and findings relevant to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, Springer Nature – publisher of the BMC portfolio – is already committed to making all COVID-19 research open access, and seeks to enable the sharing of preprints and data in community recognized repositories.

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