F1000 Research – A Next Step in Post-Publication Peer Review

The Faculty of 1000, who have been satisfied so far with simply identifying top papers in biology, are getting into open access publishing (H/T Retraction Watch).  Called F1000 Research, the new publication appears to follow the general model of PLoS Currents from the Public Library of Science.  Both items could claim, as Retraction Watch suggests, kinship with the arXiv.org online preprint archive.

After what the editorial staff are characterizing as “an initial sanity check,” papers submitted to F1000 Research will be published.  Instead of weeks after submission (if not months), research would be published in days.  Invited reviewers would check the papers post-publication, and any registered reader can comment on the work.  Authors would be encouraged to respond to comments and revise their work, with new versions or larger works linked to the initial submissions.

What could be the most innovative portion of the project is the flexibility in what constitutes an article.  From the announcement.

  • “Article” format is not predefined. A range of formats will be acceptable, from the standard research article, to discursive speculation based on preliminary results, to data tables and protocols, to posters and slides (as currently viewable in F1000 Posters).  We will encourage whatever format is appropriate to describe the work in a succinct format; this can later be expanded upon or supplemented in the repository, or published elsewhere, but serves as the author’s stake in the subject, with a timestamp, reviewer comments, and call for feedback.
  • “Article” content is not predefined. Types of content that are currently routinely rejected or not even conceived of as publishable material will be encouraged for submission: e.g. negative results, case studies, thought experiments, preliminary analyses and incomplete datasets, all of which are important for the public record.

Historians should love F1000 Research.  If widely adopted, it should become much easier to track the development and evolution of scientific knowledge.  So should policymakers, because they could benefit from knowing what doesn’t work as much as what does.  But the journal – if you can really call it that – is a work in progress.  If you want to suggest changes, visit the website and let them know what you think.