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Rubriq: the future of scientific peer review?

21 Feb, 13 | by Claire Bower, Digital Comms Manager, @clairebower

Rubriq is a new startup attempting to reduce inefficiencies in publishing by providing peer review independent of journals. While others, such as Faculty of 1000, offer this with post-publication reviews, Rubriq focuses on pre-submission review. Rather than replacing peer review completely, Rubriq hopes to provide editors with initial insight, allowing them to reduce time to first decision or use it as a filter (by setting a threshold for a minimum score needed to submit). Rubriq see the R-Score (an overall score for the paper based on Quality of Research, Quality of Presentation, and Novelty and Interest) as a new article level metric.

“Rubriq has been formed to address the challenges of the peer review system for scientific publishing, and to recover lost hours from redundant reviews so they can be put back into research. In the current journal submission process, rejection is common, yet reviews are rarely passed along from one journal to the next. This leads to reviewers repeating work that has already been done on the same manuscript by other colleagues. Using data from published studies and reports, the Rubriq team estimates that over 15 million hours of time are spent on redundant or unnecessary reviews – every year.”

Co-founder (and former Vice President of ScholarOne) Keith Collier, officially unveiled the beta release of Rubriq at last year’s STM Innovations Seminar in London – you can watch a video of his presentation below.

Rubriq offers a variety of potential benefits for authors, reviewers and publishers. For authors, the system provides a fast pre-submission peer review from three experts in their field, as well as journal recommendations based on their manuscripts. Reviewers receive compensation for their expedited reviews and benefit from the ease of a standardised scorecard. Journals will have free access to reviews and scores, and can use the data to pre-screen papers to make their own process more efficient.

There are no costs to publishers in the current business model, who can set up free accounts and create search alerts for papers entered into the Rubriq system. As an incentive to build Rubriq into existing article submission systems, participating publishers will be highlighted on Journal Recommendation Reports sent to authors.

They charge a flat fee per submission ($500) and are currently operating on an author-pays model. However, they do seem to be in talks with institutions and funders regarding alternative approaches.

“If grant funds allow for publishing services, the funder would essentially be the customer. If article processing charges (APC) can be divided between an open access (OA) publisher and Rubriq, that would remove some of the burden from the author as the fee could be applied directly to the publication.”

The service is still in beta phase with a staggered release of services over the course of 2013.  You can find full details of their rollout here

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