Frequently asked questions

What is Academic Karma?

Academic Karma is a peer-review network and platform for content-open preprint peer-review

The aim of Academic Karma is to make peer-review open. See for a discussion around why we think this is good for scientific progress.

What is content-open peer review? Are the reviewers names open too?

Content-open peer review refers to the content of the peer review being publicly visible to anyone, and linked back to the original preprint. We leave it up to the reviewer to decide if they are happy for their identity to be open as well. All reviewers at Academic Karma need an ORCID identifier, and so their identity is verified, but the reviewer can decide if they want to make this publically visible. We would like to encourage reviewers to sign their review where appropriate, but we also recognise that many researchers have legitimate concerns about signing their reviews - for example a junior researcher may feel that criticising an influential researcher may lead to issues in their career.

Is this a service for readers, authors, reviewers, editors or publishers?

Its a platform which aims to be used by all of these groups of people in conducting open peer review.

Reviewers can use it to open-peer review any manuscript they have been invited to review (so long as the authors have deposited a preprint).

Editors can use it to manage an open-peer review process for any manuscript they have been tasked with handling.

Publishers can use it to identify papers which would be a good fit for their journal and solicit submission from authors.

Authors can use it to crowd-source open peer review of their preprints

Finally, readers can use it to find out how rigoursly a paper has been peer-reviewed.

Can the author invite an editor to manage the open peer review process

Yes, we provide tools for authors to find and invite an editor to manage the review process. This enables authors to access open-peer review from the same editors handling review for top journals, who may be able to help the author find an appropriate journal to publish the manuscript after the completion of peer review. However it isnt necessary that the author does this to benefit from open peer review, they could also just use the platform to crowd-source open peer review via twitter.

Can the author openly respond to the reviews

Yes, the author receives the reviews as soon as they are completed, is provided with a form for responding (openly) to the reviewers comments, indicating which changes they have made in the manuscript revision.

What is crowd-sourcing of open peer review

This refers to the community finding reviewers to open peer review a paper. For example, you might be reading a preprint and think that one of your colleagues would be a good person to review the preprint given their expertise. We make it easy for you to tweet and tag that person asking them to help in open peer-reviewing a manuscript. Your colleague might then tweet it to their followers asking for help in open reviewing a preprint. This uses the power of social media to convene peer review.

Can multiple people co-sign a review

Yes, we allow for multiple academics to co-sign a review. One common example might be a PI co-signing with a post-doc, if both have contributed to the review. In this case, as with a paper, it is expected that each reviewer has read the entire review and agrees with every point made, and that they have made an intellectual contribution to the review. We think this is important for multiple reasons: 1. it helps busy PIs find a way to continue to contribute to peer review; and 2. it formalises a process which goes on already of PIs asking their post-docs and students to do a review; 3 it helps train students in peer review.

How do you manage conflicts of interest and authors gaming the system to get good reviews

We manage this via making everything as open as possible. Reviewers, authors and editors are asked to openly declare and potential or perceived conflicts of interest. So that an author can choose to ask a colleague for a review, but they are expected to declare this relationship so that the reader can decide on the objectivity of the review.

Do I have to sign my reviews

This is encouraged for the purposes of transparency, however we realise that not everyone is comfortable with this, and often with good reason. Thus, reviewers have the choice of signing their review, or keeping their identity hidden from the author (and the reader). It should be noted that the identity of the reviewer is revealed to the editor (if assigned) and also to any journal to which the author transfers their submission.

Is open preprint peer review compatible with submission to a journal which conducts closed peer-review

Yes, the two can occur simultaneously. In fact open-peer review of preprints already goes on in blog-posts, tweets, comments etc. We are just trying to aggregate this process, and make it happen as a matter of course, rather than as an exception.

Can Academic Karma help me get my paper published in high impact journal faster?

High impact-factor (IF) journals are a necessity for career progression in science, despite the fact that impact factor is a distorting and damaging metric for science (e.g. see this ).

The need to maximise IF forces academics to first submit to a high IF journal (then wait 3+ months); then submit to a slightly lower IF journal (wait another 3 months) and so on, each time getting reviews from a different set of reviewers. High IF journals reject the vast majority of submissions in order to increase their IF. This leads to extensive delays in publishing.

Open peer review can help you short-circuit this process by creating a set of reviews which are portable. So, if you do get rejected on the first submission, you can still take the open reviews with you to a second journal. Academic Karma facilitates sharing the reviews (which are open anyway) as well as identities of the reviewers if they have elected not to sign their reviews with a second journal.

The open peer-review handling editor can help you decide, based on the reviewers reports , what would be the best target journal for your paper, and can help advocate to the journal to publish your paper. The target journal can then use the open-peer reviews, and can initiate a round of re-review with the same reviewers if necessary. So you just have one set of reviewers and the reviews are completely portable.

Is the peer review really free at Academic Karma?

The cost price of peer review at Academic Karma is $0. Of course, your peers still have a lot of work to do to review your paper, and the way you pay for this is to do the same in return. Academic Karma keeps a track of this via its 'karma' credit system.

How does the karma process work

When a review is completed 50 karma is transferred from the authors to reviewer account. The 50 karma cost is split evenly amongst all the authors. There is no penalty for having a karma debt, but we hope it will remind authors to do their fair share of reviewing.

How and when are the reviews made openly available?

The reviews are made openly available as soon as they are submitted.

Can Academic Karma publish my paper too?

No, we are not a publisher

I am presenting a preprint at a journal club. Should I also open peer review it?

Absolutely! All your journal club members can co-sign the review

Who are the co-founders?

The founders are a scientist (Lachlan Coin) and a software engineer (Louis Stowasser) from Brisbane. We are frustrated with the cost and speed of scientific publishing.