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Publons Joins Clarivate Analytics: The Future of Peer Review

Daniel and I founded Publons in 2013 with the core belief that peer review is at the heart of research and that it needs to be recognised as such. Our ability to trust and understand research depends on it.

We had no idea what was to come.

Four years later, Publons has grown from a vision to a community of more than 150,000 researchers who are finally getting recognition for the more than 800,000 reviews they’ve added. We partner with 26 of the top publishers in the world, who together have integrated more than 1,300 journals into Publons in order to better recognise and understand their reviewers. The recently launched Publons Academy is giving previously invisible researchers the training and exposure necessary to review the world’s research and giving universities around the world a way to better support their researchers.

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We’ve made a ton of progress but the challenges facing research are continuing to grow, many driven by the nature of the “publish or perish” world we live in. As a research community we are increasingly concerned with:

  • Fraud and methodological flaws in research.
    In particular, retractions caused by misrepresentations and/or fake email addresses are becoming a core concern for funders, publishers, and researchers alike. Meanwhile, a lack of reproducibility of much of published science has enormous policy implications.

  • Inefficiencies that are slowing down research.
    Rapidly increasing submission rates over the last decade have resulted in massive demand for qualified, motivated, and trustworthy reviewers. This increased workload, combined with a lack of coordination between publishers, has led to corresponding drops in the rates at which reviewers accept assignments.

  • Challenges in the funding environment as funders increasingly demand demonstrable impact and proof of contributions to the research environment.
    It is inherently difficult to identify and understand top research. Historically we’ve relied on citations and the journal Impact Factor as proxies to measure research quality and to recognise contributions to the research environment, but those metrics, whilst important, are only part of the full story. The recent HEFCE Metric Tide report (see my review of the report on Publons) is a good example of how funders are looking for better ways.

We believe that peer review will be at the heart of solutions to these problems. Peer review is the last, great, closed part of the research lifecycle. Data on peer review needs to become a core component of the research record. Bringing transparency, recognition, and training to peer review will result in better reviewers and a faster, more trusted research process.

This will only be possible with collaboration across the wider ecosystem of researchers, publishers, funders, and research institutions. Publons is leading this charge but we feel we need to move faster to reach a global scale and cooperation across the wider community.

So today we’re announcing that Publons is joining Clarivate Analytics, the world’s leading objective data-driven research solutions provider, to accelerate our mission to bring trust and efficiency to the world of research.

Clarivate Analytics was recently spun out of Thomson Reuters as a standalone business. They have a rich and important heritage of helping researchers, publishers, universities, and funders to discover new research, assess impact, and drive research excellence. For 30 years they’ve curated the Impact Factor, one of the research world’s first independent measures of journal quality. As a trusted partner and neutral player in the research ecosystem, their citation network and researcher tools including flagship products like Web of Science, EndNote, and ScholarOne, are some of the most widely used in research, with customers in more than 100 countries and 7,000 institutions.

As we’ve come to know Jay Nadler, Jessica Turner, Annette Thomas, and the Clarivate Analytics team, we’ve learned how passionate they are about reinvesting to build on these products in new and innovative ways.

As Jay said the first time we met, “Clarivate Analytics is not just a new name; we’re a new company, with a new and bold ambition.”

It is clear to us that the scale, reach, and ambition of Clarivate Analytics, combined with our researcher-facing platform and focus on peer review will allow us to provide novel solutions to the problems in research. Together we envision a world where:

  • Researchers will be able to easily manage their review, editorial, and publishing activity, gaining recognition for the full range of their research activities;

  • Publishers will be able to defend against fraud and speed up their peer review process with tools to find, screen, contact, and motivate reviewers, made available to all peer review and editorial management systems;

  • Universities will benefit from solutions that combine citations and reviews to help identify and recognise top research, along with new tools and training to improve reviewer performance;

  • Funders will be able to defend against fraud, improve the quality of funded research both through analytics tools that recognise reviewers and researchers more generally, and with tools to find, screen, contact, and motivate grant reviewers.

We will have plenty more to say about all of those things over the coming days and months. For today we simply want to say thanks to every Publons reviewer and all of our customers. We built this platform for you and are excited about what’s coming next.

On a personal note, we would also like to thank the Publons team, the Wellington angel investors that got us off the ground, and the team at SAGE -- David McCune, Ziyad Marar, and Sam Burridge -- who, as part of their commitment to making minority investments in innovative start-ups, put so much time and energy into helping us grow.

As always, if you have any questions please contact Daniel or me at any time. We’re looking forward to continuing to bring trust and transparency to research with Publons, the home of peer review.

-- Andrew and Daniel, June 1st, 2017

P.s. To coincide with the news, we are launching a brand new version of the private researcher dashboard. This is available starting today and makes it even easier to track and get recognition for your reviews. It’s one of our biggest improvements yet. Soon we’ll be adding things like the ability to track your WoS publications and citations -- but only once we’ve talked to you and learned more about what you think is important.

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