If you’ve browsed through the Altmetric data recently, you might have noticed a silver stripe in many of our donuts. The new silver stripe represents a brand new source of online academic attention: open peer review platforms.
Following from an earlier announcement about our partnership with Publons, we recently launched a new “peer reviews” tab on our article details pages. The peer reviews tab displays attention data that we are receiving from two of the major peer review platforms, Publons and PubPeer.
Open peer review platforms are exciting because they provide common locations for all researchers to discuss and comment on papers, either anonymously or using one’s real name. The detailed conversations (which are often very technical and sometimes even involve the article authors) make peer review websites a fantastic source of scholarly attention, especially as online peer reviewer communities continue to expand. Additionally, since Altmetric’s other sources often tend to blend public and scholarly attention together, the peer reviews tab provides a clearer look into the academic chatter that surrounds a paper.
Although we’ve grouped the two sites into the same peer reviews tab on the details pages, it’s important to note that both platforms have different features which set them apart from each other. For instance, Publons tends to host standalone reviews and incorporates its own scoring system for article quality and significance. Examples of articles that have been reviewed on Publons can be found here and here.
On the other hand, PubPeer is used like an online journal club, where the reviews typically consist of short comments that are organised into discussion threads. (This isn’t always the case though; some people do sometimes choose to write long reviews into a single comment.) An example of an article that has been the topic of a fairly active conversation on PubPeer can be found here (also read the full PubPeer comments).
At the moment, the vast majority of papers that are being discussed on Publons and PubPeer tend to be science-related. Of the 20 most discussed papers in the past week, 18 were life sciences papers and the remaining 2 were from the physical sciences. (This paper topped the list.) Over the coming months, it’ll be interesting to see how the open peer review services grow, and if other disciplines will also start to adopt the platforms.