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Taylor & Francis to pay reviewers in fast track publishing service

Providing authors with faster peer review and rewarding reviewers for their assistance to publishers in achieving this goal are thorny issues, but one of the large publishers is trying a new initiative.

Taylor & Francis have described how their Accelerated Publication service for authors involves payments of $150 to each peer reviewer who submits their comments within one week.

There are no official details of the payment structure available on the T&F website as yet, but they do present the workflow for this Accelerated Publication service: http://taylorandfrancis.com/partnership/commercial/prioritized-publication/

In a Twitter conversation with science communication journalist Richard Poynder@tandfonline revealed the payment news and provided several details of the process and motives behind it:

“Hi there Accelerated Publication covers submission to online publication and is designed to meet the needs of a select group, primarily in the biomedical sciences. (1/6)

This service is designed to give authors more control over timing of publication to fit with grant deadlines, product launches etc (2/6)

Reviewers are paid an honorarium on completion of their review because we are asking them to complete within a set timeframe. (3/6)

This timeframe is clear in all correspondence to reviewers invited to review Accelerated Publication submissions, and they accept the invitation on this basis. (4/6)

Payment is completely independent of their recommendation to the editor and many papers are in fact rejected e.g. CMRO had rejection rate of 52% on Accelerated Publication submissions in 2017 (5/6)

Hope this explains but if you have any more questions please contact us on communications@tandf.co.uk, and we’ll come back to you as quickly as we can. (6/6)”

This is not the first time a large publisher has tried a fast-track system involving payments to peer reviewers. In 2015, Nature’s Scientific Reports set up a trial with Rubriq to offer a similar service, which saw one of their editors quit the journal in protest.

This was part of a trial for conceptual journal-independent peer review services, where companies conduct a scientific review of papers, then pass them to a suitable journal where the decision process could be accelerated.  However, during 2017, Rubriq and Axiom Review, a company providing similar services, both folded due to lack of take-up. It seems that vision for payment and speed incentives was not right for the time or place.

T&F have been actively involved in trying to determine suitable means of compensating their reviewers for some time. In 2016 they published a white paper titled “Peer Review – a global view”, which investigated many opinions around the process,  one section of which addressed incentives. The survey identified strong support for free access to papers, waivers for open access and page fees, and recognition, in the form of certificates or a published list of names (with stronger support if the name was not directly related to the paper).

On the subject of direct financial compensation, their survey found a lack of consensus, with almost equal numbers of responses stating they would be “less likely”, “more likely”, and neutrally valenced. Deeper analysis of responses showed the:

“youngest age group (20-29 year olds) are most in favour of receiving payment and those who are 60+ are most resistant. Whether this attitude among younger scholars will change as they progress in their careers, or if the call for reviewers to be paid will grow in time, could be an area of future examination.”

T&F appear to have approached this controversial issue as carefully and diligently as possible before launching this service, so we are keen to watch how response to their version unfolds.

– Sunday 21st January, 2018 –