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Publisher collaboration to keep COVID research moving

Publisher collaboration to keep COVID research moving

A cross publisher collaboration aims to ensure research related to COVID-19 is reviewed and published as quickly as possible. An Open Letter of Intent encourages academics to sign up to a reviewer database, authors to use preprint servers and calls on other publishers to action with a focus on open data and encouraging preprints.

In order to increase the efficiency of peer review and ensure that publication of crucial COVID-19 research is quick and open, we are working with colleagues from across the publishing industry on a new initiative.

Alongside eLife, PeerJ, PLOS, Royal Society, F1000 Research, Copyright Clearance Center, FairSharing, and Outbreak Science Rapid PREreview; and endorsed by Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA)  we are working together to support fast and efficient publication of COVID-19 papers by creating a reviewer pool and implementing portable peer review. 

As individual publishers we are already endorsing the Wellcome and WHO directives regarding preprints, and we have heard from academics in the field who are currently overwhelmed with requests for peer review. We know that authors of COVID-19 papers want rapid peer review and publication, and that our ability to support this will make a difference to policy and public responses. 

We have come together across the open publishing industry to support  academics; peer reviewers, editors and authors,  and to ensure the widest and quickest dissemination of relevant quality content, we have issued a formal Letter of Intent and are launching two new initiatives to take this Letter further into implementation.

Firstly we will create a common database of peer reviewers and are asking for volunteer reviewers to sign up. Potential reviewers will be asked to commit to rapid reviewing times and to pre-agree that their reviews and identity can be shared among publishers and journals, if submissions get rerouted for any reason. 

Additionally, authors submitting COVID-19-relevant research to any of the publishers in the initiative will be asked when they submit for the reviews of their manuscript to be portable between publishers if the paper is not accepted for publication at the first journal they submitted to.

These initiatives should decrease the time it takes for COVID-19 papers to be published and we, alongside our publishing colleagues, will be monitoring the impact of the reviewer pool and portable peer review. 

We hope these steps will help to decrease the burden on researchers peer reviewing at this time while supporting the global effort to ensure peer reviewed research on COVID-19 is published as quickly as possible.

It is only by working together, sharing knowledge and supporting each other that we can help mitigate the pandemic, aid research into COVID-19, or help expedite epidemiological or vaccine studies regardless of the journal or platform they are published in.

This profound level of collaboration among publishers, researchers and organizations across the publishing industry stresses more than ever before the importance of working together to provide solutions to unprecedented challenges. As in many areas of society, transformations are taking place, and we hope that some of these developments towards Open Science become the norm as we come out of the other side of the pandemic. For now though, we look to focus our energy on COVID-19 papers.

We are proud to be of service to the research community in these difficult times and hope to have your support. 


Sarah Greaves

Chief Publishing Officer


For further information on the group please get in touch with Sarah Greaves ([email protected] ). 

Consider signing up as a rapid reviewer here.

Have a look at our collection of new and previously published articles on coronavirus research and treatment.

Read more on our commitment to sharing findings related to COVID-19.

This blog post is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). The illustration is by Hindawi and is also CC-BY. 

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