A community of diverse plants in a field including dandelions, buttercups, and grasses.

What is a PREreview Community?

PREreview Communities are preprint reviewing groups that form around an identity, research topic, an institution, a laboratory, a journal club, a program, or any other dimension that may bind a group.

One of our favorite definitions of “community” comes from our friends and colleagues at the Center for Scientific Collaboration and Community Engagement (CSCCE):

Community is somewhere members feel a sense of belonging, have a shared purpose, and get to shape culture together.

We see PREreview Communities as elements of an interconnected network of preprint reviewers, each with its own shared purpose, rules, and components—all working together towards a shared goal. This goal is to build a better research culture, one where everyone regardless of their career level, identity, cultural and educational background, is empowered to share their constructive feedback openly, is valued, and is recognized for their contributions.

Why PREreview Communities?

A key attribute for a peer reviewer in the traditional sense is that they must be experts in the field of study of the manuscript they are reviewing. And that makes sense. We do want people who have knowledge about the work they are reviewing in order for them to provide feedback that the authors can use to improve their study.

But who decides who is an expert? What makes a reviewer an expert?

The answer to the first question in the context of traditional, journal-organized peer review, is editors. Editors typically select 1-3 reviewers from a personal or a private list of contacts shared within the journal. Some editors may also find reviewers by searching for authors who have published in the same fields of study of the manuscript under review.

The answer to the second question is rather subjective. Expertise too often has more to do with prestige, identity, institutional affiliation rather than being reflective of the reviewer’s knowledge of the topic and experience in giving constructive feedback.

With PREreview Communities we want to shift the perception of who is an expert away from the trust we may develop in an individual for their personal connections and prestige, in favor of a trust developed around a group of people, a community, who work together to shape a new peer review culture where constructive feedback is expected and rewarded.

A filter option that applies to all available content on PREreview and on individual preprints allows a reader to filter for PREreviews and selectively visualize aggregated rapid PREreviews authored by members of any community active on PREreview. This feature de-emphasizes any single review authored by an individual in favor of a group.

Basic PREreview Community Features

Any PREreview user, aka PREreviewer, can request to start a new Community.

Each Community has one or more Moderators. As a Community Moderator, a PREreviewer can perform the following activities:

  • Add/Remove Community Members
  • Add events to the Community calendar and set them as private (only visible to Community Members) or public (visible to everyone) — e.g., a Community live-streamed preprint journal club
  • Create and share review templates, outlines of a review that Community Members can load when writing a full PREreview to guide their review composition
  • Add/Edit the Community description, Twitter handle and or hashtag, and Community banner (an image that will appear in the background of the Community page)
  • Join the Code of Conduct committee to manage Code of Conduct violations that may have happened within their Community

Our first community on PREreview is Outbreak Science, a group made up of PREreviewers who came together to rapidly review outbreak-related preprints. This community was migrated from what was once Outbreak Science Rapid PREreview, a separate platform that we developed in collaboration with Outbreak Science and whose codebase has now been archived.

Any PREreviewer can request to join an existing community and become a Community Member.

As Community Member, a PREreviewer can perform the following activities:

  • Access Community review templates set up to guide the writing of a full PREreview
  • Publish their rapid and full PREreviews within the Community page
  • Access details to join private preprint review-related events organized by the Community Moderator

To help set up new Communities and onboard new Community Members, we created additional documentation that is accessible here.

Help us build a future in which every researcher is empowered with the skills to recognize and fight bias, and is welcomed into a peer review culture where constructive feedback is expected and rewarded.

To REQUEST A NEW PREREVIEW COMMUNITY fill out this Google Form or email us at contact@prereview.org. Our team will follow up with some questions and either suggest the requester and their group join an existing community that overlaps with the request or set up a new community from scratch.

To JOIN AN EXISTING PREREVIEW COMMUNITY login into PREreview (or sign up if you are not a PREreviewer yet), navigate to the community you wish to join from this list, and click on the "Request to join community" button.

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Please note that the site is under continuous development and we will be rolling out feature updates in the next few months. To stay up-to-date with PREreview's efforts, sign up for our quarterly Newsletter.

To learn more about what you can do on the PREreview preprint review platform click here.

For any questions or concerns, please email us at contact@prereview.org.