Towards the end of April, a group of scholarly communication organizations and publishers – including Royal Society Publishing – announced the launch of a collaborative initiative to ensure that research related to COVID-19 is reviewed and published as quickly as possible. We are pleased to report that there has been an overwhelmingly positive response from the academic community, and more than 1400 researchers (from over 85 countries) have now signed up as reviewers.
Every one of these reviewers has committed to rapid turnaround times and have agreed that their reviews and identity can be shared among publishers and journals, should submissions get re-routed for any reason. We believe these measures will ensure that relevant research is reviewed and published quickly and efficiently, and we would like to extend our thanks to everyone who has signed up and agreed to take part.
It’s not too late to participate
Since the initial announcement, additional publishers and journals have signed up to the initiative, including the Life Science Alliance, Gigascience and Ubiquity Press. We are happy for more to join and interested organizations should contact Phil Hurst at the Royal Society or Sarah Greaves at Hindawi. Participating publishers will need to agree to all points in the letter of intent which is published on the OASPA website.
We are encouraging interested reviewers to continue to sign up too and we have a separate form for reviewers from China.
Preprints, peer review and data
We have committed to actively facilitate posting of COVID-19 preprints to preprint servers with the agreement of the authors, consider comments on preprints during the journal peer review process, and to ensure all COVID-19 submissions include a mandatory data availability statement, if they do not already do this, for all submissions.
The Royal Society already transfers articles with peer review information between journals internally to save time and reduce the need to re-review. This collaboration extends the sharing of peer review information to transfer between a significant group of external journals.
Royal Society Open Science
In parallel, our journal Royal Society Open Science is rapidly reviewing COVID-19 Registered Reports. In a Registered Report, the study is peer-reviewed prior to data collection, with a focus on the methodology and analysis plan. This approach tends to make results very reliable – stopping researchers from following false leads. The first of these COVID-19 Registered Reports has now been published.