Q. Can you tell us a little about your background and how F1000 came about?
A. I originally trained as a pharmacist and then did a PhD in cardiovascular pharmacology in Nottingham. I had a particular interest in drug discovery and the pharma industry and so moved from there into publishing at Elsevier, where I stayed for 7 years and ultimately headed up the Drug Discovery Group. I joined F1000’s founder and serial publishing entrepreneur, Vitek Tracz, 9 years ago, initially in a company called Current BioData, a drug intelligence service for the pharma industry, but then moved across to F1000 in 2009.
F1000 (Faculty of 1000) launched in 2002 and was initially set up as an expert-based article recommendation service across biology and medicine. We now have over 11,000 members of the F1000 Faculty, comprising 6000 world-leading names and another 5000 more junior up-and-coming scientists. As they read the literature, they identify those published papers that they think are particularly interesting and important, and provide a rating (1 to 3, all positive as they are looking for the best papers) and a short summary of why they think the article is important. Interestingly, the majority of the papers selected are not in the very top-Impact Factor journals.
More recently, when I joined F1000, I launched a couple of new services, F1000Posters, an open access repository of posters and slides, and just over 2 years ago, F1000Research, an open science publishing platform. A few days ago, we also launched the F1000Workspace, a significant suite of tools that help researchers discover literature, collaborate with colleagues, and write their grants and papers.
Q. What is F1000Research?
A. The idea behind F1000Research is to transform the way science is communicated by removing the extensive delays between when they write up their results and when others actually get to benefit from these results (typically 6 months at best in the traditional system, and regularly 1-2 years). Furthermore, we are trying to remove much of the bias present in the traditional anonymous pre-publication peer review process and create a transparent process that enables scientists to share all their findings.
We run an author-led approach. Once a paper is submitted to us, an internal editorial team checks it to make sure it meets a set of basic criteria (the authors are from a recognized institution, it meets standard ethical requirements, it is readable, not plagiarized etc) and then we publish the article. It is then citable but very clearly labeled (including within the article title itself) that it is awaiting peer review. The article then goes into a formal invited peer review process, but all the referee reports and the referee names are published alongside the article. Authors can revise the article as many times as they wish, and once the article achieves a certain level of positive review, it is indexed in PubMed, Scopus, and many other major bibliographic databases. We also require that the data underlying all results are made publicly available and stored in a suitable database (with the exception of data where there are anonymity or security concerns,of course). We publish all article types and encourage the publication of negative/null data, small studies, attempts at replications etc.
Q. What are the benefits of “publish first and peer review later.”
A. One major benefit is speed: the approach brings our times down to a median of 7 days between final manuscript and publication, and 28 days to receive 2 referee reports. This is important as it means science can move at a much faster pace because other labs can learn about new discoveries quickly, make their own assessments of them, attempt to replicate them, and then try and build on them.
The open and ongoing peer review process that this publication model enables also brings several advantages. Referees cannot hide behind a curtain of anonymity, and several studies have shown that referees are no less critical in an open environment, but are a lot more courteous and constructive in their feedback. Referees can also get credit for the time and effort required to do the report (and can even now put it on their ORCID profiles). It enables others to benefit from the discussion between the referees and authors, and good referee reports typically provide a lot of valuable context. Readers (and even the public) can benefit from seeing that there are also often quite different points of view on a particular finding, which especially benefits younger researchers and those moving into a new field. Moreover, younger researchers can also benefit from the educational aspect of learning how to perform good peer review.
Q. How will the transfer pilot with Wiley journals work?
A. The pilot offers authors whose articles don’t meet the specific criteria for publication in five Wiley journals (Journal of Separation Science; Electrophoresis; Plant, Cell & Environment; Journal of Medical Virology; Pediatric Dermatology) the option to submit their manuscripts to F1000Research, thereby giving the authors a streamlined process to get their work quickly and easily published online. The authors will receive an email asking them if they wish to have their manuscript transferred, and if they accept, the relevant files will be moved across without the need for any changes at that stage.
Q. What happens to articles once they are transferred to F1000?
A. The F1000Research team will then do a rapid assessment of the article and confirm to the authors within 7 days whether their article meets our basic criteria and if so, they will be offered publication. Authors might at this point be asked for additional information such astheir source data, if it wasn’t included in the original submission.
Q. What are the benefits to Wiley authors?
A. It means that authors do not need to waste time hunting for another suitable specialist journal for their work. Assuming their work passes the basic checks of F1000Research, their work will be published simply and quickly, regardless of how ‘big’ and newsworthy their studies are. It will be made available free for everyone to access through an open access environment, and they can move on to their next research project.
Q. What’s next for F1000Research?
A. Now that we have launched F1000Workspace, we are developing tighter integration through a one-click submission route from F1000Workspace to F1000Research. We will also develop many other tools to improve the refereeing and versioning experience using the F1000Workspace capabilities. We will also be continuing our work to develop and integrate with tools that enable in-article data visualization and manipulation, and expand our new concept of living figures.