eLife's New Model: Funders support use of reviewed preprints in research assessment

Funders and other research organisations are embracing reviewed preprints as an alternative way to assess researchers, and call on others to do the same.

eLife’s new publishing model has sparked vigorous discussion about the role of editors in selecting research articles for publication. In October 2022, we announced that we are eliminating accept/reject decisions after peer review and instead focusing on preprint review and assessment.

In support, several funding and research organisations have committed to including reviewed preprints in the evaluation process, even if they lack the traditional stamp of approval from journal editors. Among these supporters are the Gates Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, and Wellcome. We will update this post as more organisations pledge their support.

The current science publishing system relies on a model of peer review that focuses on directing papers into journals. These reviews are not made publicly available, stripping them of their potential value to wider readers and leading committees to judge scientists based on where, rather than what, they publish. This can impact hiring, funding and promotion decisions, and highlights the need for a system of review that helps funding and research organisations assess scientists based on the research itself and related peer reviews.

Researchers globally are taking action to make science publishing and its place in science better, for example by preprinting their work and advocating for others to do so. This gives them greater control over their work and enables them to communicate their findings immediately and widely, and receive feedback quickly.

Several initiatives are now taking this further by bringing communities of experts together to openly review and curate research posted as preprints, helping readers navigate the preprint landscape and assess new findings for themselves.

Besides eLife, other organisations involved in preprint review and curation include PREreview – a platform for the crowdsourcing of preprint reviews; Biophysics Colab – which provides a review and curation service for biophysics preprints; and Review Commons – a platform for high-quality, independent peer review of life science preprints before submission to a journal.

So far, the following funding and research organisations have committed their support for recognising reviewed preprints in research assessment. Others that wish to join them can do so by contacting journal.development@elifesciences.org.

Supporting organisations:

  • Cambridge University Libraries
  • Champalimaud Foundation
  • cOAlition S
  • Gates Foundation
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute
  • Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation
  • Research Libraries UK
  • Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute
  • University of Bristol Library services
  • Wellcome


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