BioPeers: the future of peer review in science

There are two major problems with science publishing today: (1) restricted access and (2) poor and delayed peer review process. While the former is being solved by: (a) encouraging open access publications with higher publication fees and (b) providing access in violation of copyright acts (eg. Sci-Hub). The latter issue with peer review is a more difficult problem to tackle. This is where BioPeers, an initiative by the researchers and for the researchers, comes to rescue science!

Why is the peer review process poor and slow?
Peer review is important for publishing good science. However, the process is often very slow and poor. If it slows down publication time and the time-taking review doesn’t improve the quality of work, it really becomes counterproductive and beats the purpose of it. Firstly, peer-review isn’t an organised endeavour — there is no central repository of reviewers, for instance. Secondly, in the multi-billion scientific publishing business, there is no incentive for peer reviewers (who are central to this!) to do good work. From a game theory perspective, such a system with no reward/ punishment for good/ bad behavior, will never work efficiently. We introduce incentive to specifically improve the quality and speed of peer reviewing. At the moment, peer review can be summarised as a necessary evil in science. With BioPeers, it doesn’t have to be evil anymore.

How does the incentive on BioPeers work? And how will it solve the existing issues with the peer review system?
The incentive in the form of BioPeers token lives on the blockchain — easy to manage for anyone using Metamask plugin on an internet browser. Using this, we specifically focus on improving two important aspects of peer review — time and quality. Firstly, BioPeers hosts a pool of reviewers along with their expertise which can looked up by editors for recruiting a reviewer for a specific research paper relating to their expertise. Then, the reviewer is incentivized based on the speed and quality of the provided review.

Let us look at this more closely. Once a reviewer is signed up for a review by an editor, the editor deposits X (=reviewer fee) BioPeers token to the smart contract on platform. The delivered incentive (I) at the end of the review is dependent on Q and T which are functions of the quality and time of the submitted review. The (X-I) tokens are returned back to the editor by the smart contract. There would be no additional cost (or creation of a new review contract) for the follow-up of the same work within a limited time period of 4 months.

I = Q(0.5X) + T(0.5X)

This ensures that both the quality and speed of the review will improve as the incentive is directly tied to it.

How is BioPeers owned by the participating researchers? And what does this ownership entail?
The tokens would also be associated with governance right on the platform. This would mean that reviewers who hold on to the tokens (without selling them on the market) would be democratically able to submit proposals and vote using their tokens to change the rules of the platform.

Moreover, in the future these holders might receive additional rights such as the ability to vote and distribute small grants from the treasury to good scientific causes and projects.

How can BioPeers be free of charge? Does it sell my data like other free services?
It is absolutely free and we do not monetize your data. In fact, we do not make any profit from usage of the platform. It is like a free marketplace for journals to hire reviewers for their expertise. That is it — we are a few researchers from Europe who are trying to do our bit to improve the way we do science.

As a researcher/ editor, how can I get involved?
As a researcher, there are two ways to get involved:

  • BioPeers ambassador program: open to all. The ambassadors will help us spread the word. You will receive an exclusive ambassador badge NFT for this. Sign-up here to be an ambassador.
  • BioPeers reviewer program: selected individuals will be added to the reviewer pool of the BioPeers platform. Open to PhD-holders. Sign-up here to be a reviewer.

As an editor, this is a unique opportunity as we will provide tokens and help onboard only one journal to our beta platform before it open to others. So, if you’re interested, write to us using this form.

Want to contribute in another way?
If you’re a blockchain developer and want to contribute, write to us directly at: contact.biopeers[at]gmail[dot]com

As a non-profit initiative, we will not be participating in any equity-sharing fundraising, but we will accept donations in the form of BTC/ETH/DOT. Our addresses are provided below:
BTC: 1CfuTac32udceW9JL6NZuHDRwMtFqai7tF
ETH: 0x1B5e11e89000C83Fd493496c3A93effB1296c8a5
DOT: 14ro638kc3HgvH755o8fZz65ypSQQZ2ALWMk8TESQeJ2jtQT

An incentivized peer review solution in biology: zero usage fee and owned by the participating researchers themselves.

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