Sentinel Award

For outstanding advocacy, innovation or contribution to scholarly peer review.

Providing recognition to the heroes on the frontlines of peer review is at the very heart of what Publons does. We know there are people all over the world working tirelessly to champion, innovate and improve peer review to ensure sound research is communicated to the world.

That's why we're proud to announce the shortlist for Publons first ever Sentinel Award - for outstanding advocacy, innovation or contribution to scholarly peer review!


Our shortlist is comprised of individual reviewers, career peer review advocates and experts, all handpicked by our expert panel of judges from across the academic publishing community. The judges shortlist the finalists and then determine the ultimate recipient. You can find out more about why each nominee was chosen in our series of Q&As released during Peer Review Week. Find them below or direclty on our blog.

We will announce the winner on the 19th of September as part of our Peer Review Awards - a global event celebrating the essential role that peer review plays in maintaining scientific quality.


American Geophysical Union (AGU) for their study on gender and age bias in peer review, published in Nature in early 2017. As the largest earth science association in the world, the AGU has access to a wealth of information on its reviewers, and were able to show that women of all ages have fewer opportunities to take part in peer review than their male counterparts. This is important evidence that they and others can use to help mitigate such bias in future, for example, through better education and training. The AGU also showed leadership by being the first publisher using blind peer review to adopt ORCID's peer review functionality, which enables recognition for reviewers by connecting information about their reviews to their ORCID records.

Michèle B. Nuijten for the project: StatCheck

Michèle Nuijten's research at the Meta-Research Center Tilburg University focuses on meta-science, including topics such as replication, publication bias, statistical errors, and questionable research practices. Her open source software StatCheck allows authors, editors and peer reviewers to quickly and automatically extract and check statistics before publication, or after. By making this software freely available, Michèle increases the transparency in the system, while highlighting cases of problematic interpretations and low scientific rigor. Such a system can support authors and reviewers to automatically identify problems before publication and free up reviewers to give a more holistic assessment of a researcher project, knowing that the basic science is sound.

Irene Hames has been a tireless advocate for high quality scholarly peer review, and has generally helped to define what robust review looks like. She is an independent research-publication, peer-review and research-integrity specialist with a PhD in cell biology and over 30 years’ experience in scholarly publishing, including 20 years as the managing editor of a large international journal. Irene is a former Council Member and Director of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), and holds advisory roles with Sense About Science and the International Society of Managing and Technical Editors. Irene is the author of “Peer Review and Manuscript Management in Scientific Journals”, and in 2011 was the specialist advisor to the UK Parliament House of Commons Science and Technology Committee for its inquiry into peer review and the resulting report, “Peer Review in Scientific Publications”.

See our Q&A with Irene here.

Retraction Watch was launched in 2010 to increase the transparency of the retraction process. Since that time they have reported on hundreds of retractions ranging from the small, to those that change industries, all while staving off legal threats. We can safely say that we would not be talking about the importance of transparency in peer review the same way if Retraction Watch had not been there over the last 7 years.


ORCiD: In launching and supporting the adoption of a single unique identifier for authors and researchers, ORCID provides the critical infrastructure to ensure reviewers can be unambiguously linked to the articles they review. If widely adopted, ORCID would ensure systems for assigning credit for contributions are far more effective and meaningful. ORCID is therefore nominated for its essential role in making peer review more visible and integrated into scholarly research and communication.

Disclaimer: Alice Meadows, Director of Community Engagement at ORCiD, is a judge for the Sentinel Award. Alice has recused herself from considering ORCiD for the Award.

F1000 logo-04.jpg

F1000Research pioneered innovative open, post-publication peer review model and have arguably taken the concept from the margins into the mainstream. F1000 uses an author-led process, publishing all scientific research within a few days. Open, invited peer review of articles is conducted after publication, focusing on scientific soundness rather than novelty or impact.

F1000’s success is proof there are alternative and innovative approaches to peer review. As a frontrunner in this respect, F1000 has acted as a catalyst for change and fresh thinking in the industry. We now see other journals and publishers experimenting with their peer review models -- ultimately looking to innovate for the benefit of scholarly communication.


Kyle Martin and his then supervisor Gareth Fraser co-authored an open pre-publication review that sets an example for the research community about how valuable a considered and detailed peer review can be for advancing the state of the art. Their review on the paper titled “The genome of the largest bony fish, ocean sunfish (Mola mola), provides insights into its fast growth rate” was exceptional in that it was constructive, gave detailed comments on the supporting data and supplementary files, and greatly improved the now published manuscript. It is the perfect example of peer review mentorship, and an open peer review process functioning well and advancing science.

Committee on Publication Ethics: COPE encourages transparency and an open dialogue about peer review ethics and best practice, and recognises the central part that peer review plays in the publishing process. As an organisation, COPE has attracted over 10,000 members worldwide from all areas of academia, and has become a leading voice in the world of publication ethics and integrity. Their role and resources to support and educate peer reviewers is endorsed by many editors, publishers and societies, and their guidance on issues of practice or integrity for editors is critical, covering issues such as bias, diversity and transparency. COPE also regularly speaks out on the challenges that publishers face, whatever their business model, settings standards for scientific publishing that holds all parties to account.

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