f1000, Author at F1000

In this blog, F1000’s Managing Director, Rebecca Lawrence, outlines the first of several adjustments to the F1000 model. This tweak removes a current author pain point: suggesting reviewers.

When F1000Research first launched in 2013, it set out to rethink how research is communicated, with the aim of greatly accelerating the sharing of new findings, bringing control of the process back to authors and the research community, and providing transparency across the full process, from underlying research data and code through to open peer review. These remain crucial principles on which all the F1000 platforms are based. 

However, with over ten years’ experience, we have taken the opportunity to review elements of the model. We will be making a series of tweaks and adjustments based on feedback from our authors, reviewers, and partners, analysis of current process outcomes, and successes with alternative approaches being tested elsewhere that we can learn from. 

One of the first major areas we have focused on is the process by which reviewers are identified and selected, which will shift from being author-led to editorial-led, using F1000’s in-house team to find reviewers. By taking this responsibility off the shoulders of authors, our new approach is designed to make your experience of submitting to F1000 a quicker and easier one. 

Peer review selection 

Previously, authors were required to find appropriate experts to review their article. Your work couldn’t be published on an F1000 platform until you had suggested five impartial peer reviewers. 

We have always felt that authors are often best placed out of anyone to know the experts in their specific field. (Risks of potential conflicts of interest were reduced by the full transparency of the peer review process combined with our detailed independent checks of any author-suggested reviewers.) Whilst in many cases this still holds true, we have found that this process can frequently be a pain point for authors.  

Researchers often choose to publish with F1000 because they want to make their work available as quickly as possible, and our rapid-publication model is designed to support that. Yet for some, the requirement to supply the names of potential reviewers can slow everything down quite significantly, especially if you’re an early career researcher or are in a situation that makes it harder to be connected into the research community.  

Under our new editorial-led process, you no longer need to suggest any reviewers when you submit to F1000. Finding the most appropriate experts for each paper is now done by F1000’s editorial team.  

How will the new process work?

You can continue to submit your articles through our single-page submission system. However, the section for providing reviewer names is now marked as optional: if you wish to suggest reviewers you can still do so and we will check those suggestions as normal, but this is no longer a requirement. You can also list any reviewers you do not wish to have contacted, with the reasons why. Once submitted, your paper will undergo all the usual checks to ensure that our policies and ethical guidelines have been adhered to prior to publication.  

After publication, the F1000 in-house editorial team will get to work identifying and inviting reviewers to assess your article. They will be drawing on the expertise of our colleagues at Taylor & Francis who have extensive experience of selecting qualified reviewers across all fields. 

We will continue to operate an open peer review model: reviewer names, their reports and the authors’ responses published alongside the article, so that readers can benefit from the additional viewpoints and context.  

Having tested this process, we have found that the editorial-led peer reviewer selection process significantly speeds up both the time to publication of the article prior to review as well as the peer review process itself.  

We are very grateful to members of the community who continue to provide useful feedback about their experience of F1000 platforms and inspire us with their ambitions for open research publishing. We hope this latest development to the way we work together will make the process of sharing their outputs easier for all researchers, particularly those who encounter greater obstacles to getting their voices heard.  

As I mentioned, this is the first of several such adjustments, so look out for further announcements later in the year as we continue our detailed review of the F1000 publishing model, author and reviewer experiences, and alternative approaches being tried and tested by others in the community.