Why are we putting our journal club discussions on PubPeer?

Peer review is one of the fundamental pillars of academia, but there is very little guidance for newcomers. They are often asked by their supervisors to join a review for a particular journal and may get exposed to this particular supervisor’s reviewing style. As they start publishing papers themselves, they get exposed to the good, bad and ugly of anonymous reviewers across their field. However, they rarely see more of the whole process of peer review from different perspectives. This is of course why many labs have journal clubs: these types of discussions instill the skills necessary to assess papers and offer (hopefully) constructive remarks to authors. This is usually where the peer review learning process ends, and senior researchers may find themselves simply sticking to their (or in part original supervisor’s) habitual approach towards peer review. Rebuttals do give some sense of how comments have been picked up by the authors, but the anonymous, judgmental nature of peer review for journals prohibits a more bidirectional flow of feedback between authors and reviewers.

PubPeer has the aim of facilitating this flow, and we decided to seize this opportunity to keep learning. By having an indepth discussion on a manuscript and having one person capture this discussion in what could be a formal peer review, team members at any stage in their academic development get exposed to the conceptual and practical features of peer review. Through uploading this review to PubPeer, we hope to offer useful comments to the authors of these manuscripts. Since we sincerely aim not to simply critique work, but have a more constructive role, we primarily discuss preprints instead of already published work. In doing this, we hope to contribute to a more positive culture around peer review!

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