In a nutshell

"[B]etween 1 June and 30 September 2006, we invited authors of newly submitted papers that survived the initial editorial assessment to have them hosted on an open server on the Internet for public comment. For those who agreed, we simultaneously subjected their papers to standard peer review. We checked all comments received for open display for potential legal problems or inappropriate language, and in the event none was held back. All comments were required to be signed. Once the standard process was complete (that is, once all solicited referees' comments had been received), we also gathered the comments received on the server, and removed the paper."

Goals and intentions

"Peer review is never perfect and we need to keep it subjected to scrutiny as community expectations and new opportunities evolve. In particular, we felt that it was time to explore a more participative approach."

Project status
Review process
  • Review requested by
  • Reviewer selected by
    Editor, service, or community
Review features
  • Manuscript hosting
  • Eligible reviewers/editors
  • Number of scholarly outputs commented on
  • Metrics
    The fraction of authors opting in, the number of comments and page views, and editor and author surveys
  • Results summary

    "We sent out a total of 1,369 papers for review during the trial period. The authors of 71 (or 5%) of these agreed to their papers being displayed for open comment. Of the displayed papers, 33 received no comments, while 38 (54%) received a total of 92 technical comments. Of these comments, 49 were to 8 papers. The remaining 30 papers had comments evenly distributed. The most commented-on paper received 10 comments (an evolution paper about post-mating sexual selection). There is no obvious time bias: the papers receiving most comments were evenly spread throughout the trial, and recent papers did not show any waning of interest.

    The trial received a healthy volume of online traffic: an average of 5,600 html page views per week and about the same for RSS feeds. However, this reader interest did not convert into significant numbers of comments."

  • Results URL
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