Thursday, March 27, 2014

Rewarding reviewers

A few weeks ago, I received a mail from ACS Publications with the following message:

Learn about other ways that the ACS is Now Open:
New programs including expanded ACS AuthorChoice, ACS Author Rewards, and an upcoming open access journal, ACS Central Science.
 It is especially the second item that caught my attention (ACS Author Rewards). As it says on the ACS Open Access website:
Encouraging ACS authors to choose open access with a $60-million stimulus program
  • With ACS Author Rewards, ACS provides publishing credits directly to each Corresponding Author of each article published in 2014.
  • ACS awards publishing credits, worth a total value of $1,500 per article published in 2014; there are no limits on the number of credits an author can earn
  • Authors use credits to fund any ACS open access publishing option within the next three years (2015-2017); credits are transferable to another author
  • Program designed to help research authors transition to new open access publishing models
  • With an estimated 40,000 or more articles to be published in ACS journals in 2014, this stimulus provides the research community with $60 million or more in savings, fueling participation in open access at ACS
I tweeted about it:
#lt, it would be even better if it would be followed up by a #refereerewards system @ACS
12/03/2014 18:00 

Which was followed up by many people, e.g. by @stephengdavey (an Editor for Nature Chemistryor @JakeYeston. My argument is as follows:

Given that at the moment reviewers are not rewarded for their work, it would be reasonable for publishers to propose some kind of reward system. This might be credits that can be used to publish papers in Open Access, or as I argued in the past, credits for buying books (given that publishers often have both journal and book sections).

Clearly I see some problems arising, since ideally these credits would be stored centrally in some kind of clearing house (similar to the European Central Bank). But in the end these credits will be equivalent to money, and so creating such a central clearing house would be quite difficult. Moreover, even though I may have credits at e.g. Nature, it does not mean I will be able to publish there. Still, I think that within one publisher's house (NPG, ACS, RCS, Wiley, Elsevier, Springer, ...), it would be possible to setup internally such a credit system. Indeed, ACS has already done so (but as far as I'm concerned, rewarding the wrong group of people, i.e. authors instead of reviewers).

Moreover, recently I also received an invitation to review for PeerJ, which has already such a system in place:

As an indication of our gratitude, any reviewer who submits their review on time is provided with a Coupon entitling them to an entirely free publication with PeerJ (see details at the bottom of this email).
Well done PeerJ!!

Update (18/2/2015):
Today I received the following message from Springer:
A scientific journal’s greatest responsibility is to ensure that all contributions accepted for publication are rigorously but fairly reviewed. Without your hard work, this would not be possible.

As a sign of appreciation, please accept this offer for 50% off your next Springer Shop print or eBook purchase. 

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