Advancing peer review at BMC

Peer review is central to the publishing process and has a fundamental role to play in maintaining the integrity of the published literature and advancing discovery. Earlier this month, we shared the findings from BMC’s ‘Research in Progress’ report which outlines many of the activities that have been taking place this year at BMC, including those involving peer review. All the information on our peer review projects can now be found on our new web page.

At BMC, we have always supported innovation in peer review and were one of the first publishers to truly open up peer review in 1999. BMC Psychology has continued that pioneering spirit by launching the first ever randomized controlled trial into whether ‘results-free’ peer review process can help reduce publication bias. This involves blinding the editors and reviewers to the results of a completed study, and, (similar to the Registered Reports article format), focuses the editorial decisions on the rationale and methods alone rather than the outcomes.

Zorana Zupan, one of the researchers to have co-authored the first article to have undergone the ‘results free’ peer review process noted at the time:

It seemed like a more scientific approach to peer review with the paper judged on the question asked and the methods used to address the question.”

In recognising the important role that patients and the public play in research, BMC announced the launch of Research Involvement and Engagement, an interdisciplinary, health and social care journal focussing on patient and wider involvement and engagement in research, at all stages. The journal is entirely co-produced by all key stakeholders, including patients, academics, policy makers and service users.

Continuing the theme of collaborative research, we are partnering with PEERE a trans-disciplinary, cross-sectorial collaboration aiming to improve peer review. We are also supporting the MiRoR (Methods in Research on Research) consortium an innovative doctoral training programme dedicated to advancing Methods in Research on Research in the field of clinical research. Of course research into peer review is vital and our journal Research Integrity and Peer Review provides a forum to share information with for a wide range of researchers.

Based on our discussions at the 2016 SpotOn London conference with those involved in research, funding, publishing, communication and technology, BMC and Digital Science issued this report examining the future of peer review. At BMC, where we can make a difference we will: piloting new approaches and partnering with others. We hope you enjoy browsing the initiatives that are underway, but there is always more we can do. If you have ideas or feedback on how we can continue to improve peer review, please do leave comments here.

View the latest posts on the Research in progress blog homepage