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F1000 Research at ScioBeantown – April 17, 2013


Eva Amsen
, the outreach director for F1000Research – a new open access post-publication peer review journal, spoke to ScioBeantown on April 17th, 2013.

Following is a loose transcript of the conversation that took place.

Eva: I’ve never been to Boston, but have been part of the Science Online community for long time. I was at the first Science Online conference in 2007, and went back in 2009. I want to go back again. I haven’t met a lot of the new communities – I’m excited to meet people only seen online. My new job, as outreach director for F1000 Research (@F1000Research) started 6 weeks ago. The journal is also new (which is why they needed her).

The journal launched last year to solve problems in scientific publishing. For example…


(Many) researchers want to publish, but are not aiming to publish in Nature. (But) even in PLOS one, for example, it can often take months or up to a year for the paper to go into print from submission. Which is ridiculous, it shouldn’t take so long.

 How can we speed it up?  We can speed up the peer review process, but that still takes a while.

Instead of publishing after the paper has passed peer review, the paper goes online at the start of the peer review process.

This allows people to clearly see what happens, revisions being made, and who the peer reviewers are.  This encourages peer reviewers to submit accurate reviews and to not take an excessively long time.

Average time from submission of a paper to going online is about 6 days, including author delays (where the author didn’t reply).

So far they have published (put online) around 180 papers. Not all of those are indexed, in PubMed – or external databases.  Half-finished (still not peer-reviewed) papers don’t get sent to those databases.

Eva’s question for science writers:

So when do you send out press releases? With the paper is online – by the time it finishes peer review it has been online several weeks. As writers, if it has been published online already, a press release several weeks later – is that too late?

Do writers want to be notified when a paper goes up?

Do writers want something to track papers as they go up and then when they are finished with peer review?

Another way that F1000Research is different: Data

They require ALL data to be included, though there are some exceptions (such as medical studies with private patient data). Data can be included in data repositories like Figshare, when too large or complicated for F1000 Research’s servers. But that data is embedded in the papers.

F1000Research publishes articles that aren’t “traditional”

You can submit an article that is just a single experiment (an addition to a previous paper).

Positive results are really easy to publish, negative results are impossible to publish. Often doctors prescribe drugs based on positive study results, but there may also be negative study results that didn’t get published.

A good TED talk on this is by Ben Goldacre – What doctors don’t know about the drugs they prescribe.

Replication studies are also difficult to publish. For example often labs do an experiment to verify another lab’s original published findings. So publishing replication studies allows them to publish their results…

Questions from the audience:  

Q: Do you accept articles among all subject areas?

A: We started out with the areas covered by F1000Prime – biology and medicine. So our editorial board has many biologists and medical doctors and reviewers. If we can find a reviewer for a paper we will publish it.

David E: My field is risk – and that gets press attention because it is controversial. That could be dangerous with F1000 model (of putting papers online before the peer review process).

 A: Once you’re on the paper’s page it is obvious it hasn’t been peer- reviewed. Once it passes peer review – that is also obvious.

Peanut Gallery: (I couldn’t keep track of everyone talking here – sorry!)

“At the moment we also have situations where people are writing in the mainstream media about papers that haven’t gone through peer review yet. So maybe the bigger issue is making the public aware of something being peer reviewed or not…”

@biochembelle: How do we get the public to understand what peer review means? There are current problems with peer review, even within the scientific community there is a concept that peer review is altruistic, but really also peer review that is vindictive (some no better than grammar checking).

From our end – what we could do is send out a press release only if something has passed peer review.

 Haley Bridger – What about sending a pitch rather than a press release?

Peanut Gallery:

“There is an interesting story there. Maybe writing about  watching the scientific process unfold and any controversy… “

“Already a false idea that when a paper is published that is the news..”

 “You’re not gonna get rid of bad journalism. I don’t think there is anything – other than an onus on the journalist – to do their own journalistic checks. Make it clear in the story.”

Eva: One thing we are thinking of doing is allowing you to subscribe to a paper, so you could be notified when it has been reviewed or revisions go up. Theoretically you could put new versions up forever if peer reviewed and indexed – you could also put new results up and update findings.

 Peanut Gallery:

 “Maybe make the non-peer reviewed ones harder to find!”

 Trina: About the initial review process..? If Wakefield sends a manuscript and 1000 dollars will it go up on the site?

 Eva:  The in-house editors do a “sanity check”. I don’t know if he passes a “sanity check” or not. They look to see if they can send it out in good conscience to peer reviewers. Right now (for papers that don’t pass) it’s usually problems with bad English (for writers who are non-native speakers), missing data or other crucial information,  or cases where it was immediately obvious even before peer review that the work did not meet basic scientific standards.

  Answering a question about how people tend to review papers knowing that their name is publicly on record.

Eva: They tend to be much more accurate, and their tone is friendlier. We publish the negative peer review comments as well as positive peer review.  So there are implications to being direct and honest about work. Often in anonymous review papers are passed on to post-docs or students and the reviewers don’t actually do the work. But when their name is on it they are encouraged to take ownership of the reviews they submit.

(At this point her talk was over and everyone started chatting with each other) 

Suggested edits from Eva were made on 5/2/2013 to more accurately reflect on F1000Research. 

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