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This Peer Review Week, PLOS looks ahead to a future of cooperation and collaboration at all levels of scholarship and scholarly communications

Peer Review Week 2023 will focus on Peer Review and the Future of Publishing. At PLOS, we envision a future in which researchers, institutions, and organizations collaborate fluidly across disciplines and distances. A future of team science, collaborative peer review, multidisciplinary research, and collaboration between researchers in different regions, institutions, and even with the public. We believe Openness and collaboration work hand-in-hand. By removing the walls around research we can improve equity and discoverability, facilitate connections that lead to more innovative approaches, accelerate discovery, and support rigor and reproducibility. The end result is better for science, and society.

And we’re not alone. In celebration of Peer Review Week, we asked our community what they think about collaboration, community, and the future of publishing and peer review. Here is just a little of what they had to say.

International collaboration is key to addressing big global challenges

“Many of the most significant challenges facing our planet—such as climate change, biodiversity decline, and land degradation/desertification—require that scientists from different countries work together collaboratively.  As an example, COVID19 saw almost unprecedented levels of international scientific cooperation (often on very short and urgent timeframes), where scientists shared knowledge, data, and findings relevant to understanding and treating an emerging issue where we had very little information.  

International cooperation amongst scientists remains no less urgent today, as we move towards critical points in our ability to provide the evidence to (hopefully) support real change and decision-making in addressing these challenges at the global level. This is, of course, a central driver of the efforts to achieve Open Science.  In making scientific findings more accessible (and hopefully understandable) to a wider audience, we also hope to better support international scientific collaboration.”

Emma Archer, Editor-in-Chief PLOS Climate, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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Emma Archer

Transparent, collaborative peer review builds trust

“I’ve always been puzzled by the closed and opaque nature of peer review. If it serves as a community and public scrutiny mechanism, then why should it transpire in isolation, behind closed curtains?

I therefore greatly support experimentation with and evaluation of transparent, open and collaborative review models, which hold the potential to strengthen scholarly communication, fostering greater collegiality and fairness.”

Serge P.J.M. Horbach, Sociologist of science at Aarhus University

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Serge Horbach

When it comes to multidisciplinary research communication is key

“Working in multidisciplinary teams in biomedical research requires effective communication and bridging diverse perspectives, necessitating a deep understanding of each other’s terminology. Harmonizing diverse voices and integrating varied viewpoints enables efficient project design, ensuring every piece contributes to the overarching aim.”

Natascha Drude, Berlin Institute of Health (BIH) at Charité & BIH QUEST Center for Responsible Research

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Natascha Drude

Diverse perspectives generate stronger feedback and help us see our work in a new light

“There is no single good/best way to write. That’s one principle we emphasize from the beginning, so we are effectively obligated to provide students with diverse writing coaches who come from different areas of science and who have different (sometimes strikingly different) habits and practices in writing. We all enjoy our collaboration very much, which is good because the retreat would be ineffective without that diversity.”

Stephen Matheson, Associate Editorial Director at PLOS & Co-organizer of  the annual Scientific Writing Retreat

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Stephen Matheson

Other researchers may have pieces of the puzzle you are trying to solve

“Mapping neural circuits requires a singular drive to complete a particular part of the brain you’re focusing on. When done, you’ll be pleasantly surprised that your work is worth far more than expected. Turns out, neurons mapped by others elsewhere in the brain reach out and synapse with the ones you’ve mapped. These synapses let you make sense of the structure of your neural circuits of interest—now you know its inputs and outputs—and enables others to likewise enrich their analysis. A huge win-win.”

Albert Cardona, Cambridge University

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Albert Cardona

Collaboration isn’t just useful for research—it helps in skills-building too

“[In our writing workshops] we intentionally create groups so that, as much as possible, people are working on similar things (manuscripts, grants, fellowships, job applications, etc.) and are from very different subdisciplines. There’s a power to hearing from peers what you do well when writing, and there’s a power to hearing from peers in different subdisciplines what might be confusing in your writing.”

Charla Lambert, PhD, CSHL Diversity Equity & Inclusion Officer & Co-organizer of  the annual Scientific Writing Retreat

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Charla Lambert

Researchers aren’t the only ones

Just like the researchers we serve, we’re not doing it alone, but through collaboration with like-minded partners. Partners like CSHL and EarthArXiv, who enable us to integrate facilitated preprint posting directly into our submission system, so authors can share their work on their own timeline with ease. Or, who co-developed and co-host Lab Protocols, an article type that leverages’s optimized platform and PLOS ONE’s publishing platform to publish step-by-step protocols in a peer reviewed scholarly journal, without sacrificing utility. Or the Einstein Foundation, with whom we work to recognize rigor, reliability, robustness and transparency in research.

Share your ideas

Comment below to tell us what you think about the theme of Peer Review and future of Publishing, or share your ideas and experiences relating to PLOS’ vision for a future of collaboration.

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