Academic Karma: Encouraging Fair Peer Review

Peer review is essential to publishing quality articles. It can be difficult for editors to find reviewers for articles. Many scientists publish more articles than they review. This creates a burden on those who review many papers. The founders of Academic Karma believe that scientists should get credit for peer review. They have created an open data platform for open peer review. This peer review organization wants to change the current imbalance in peer reviewing.

What Is Academic Karma?

Academic Karma is a peer review network. All of Preprints’ papers are visible on Academic Karma. The peer review of associated articles is open. A reviewer can choose to not include their names if they feel that there might be backlash. In order to review a paper, a researcher must have an ORCID profile as this is a verification step.

Peer review

Academic Karma encourages researchers to do more peer review. The platform allows scientists to review manuscripts for any journal. When the review is complete, they can directly submit it to the journal. For every paper a researcher reviews, they get 50 karma. This 50 karma comes from the accounts of the paper’s authors. The karma balance for a researcher becomes an indication of how many reviews they have done versus how many papers they have had reviewed. Researchers have used Academic Karma to review papers for Gigascience, Biomed Central, PLoS, and Nature.

Editors can also use the platform to manage open peer review for their papers. Authors can use it to invite an editor to manage the review of their article. This feature allows authors to connect with editors of top journals. The editors may be able to recommend the best place to publish their paper. Authors can also crowdsource peer review of their work.

How Does Academic Karma Work?

The platform uses data from ORCID to determine a user’s karma over the last five years. Users can also upload their reviewing history. Academic Karma then showcases the expertise of its members. They are encouraged to indicate their willingness to review articles. The platform also provides tools to help editors find and invite reviewers. Once the paper is published it is added to the manuscripts page.

Lachlan Coin and Louis Stowasser co-founded Academic Karma. Their aim is to make peer review cheaper, faster, and more transparent. They have been tracking the speed of peer review on the platform. On average, an Academic Karma review takes 9 days. Coin and Stowasser have decided to focus on using the platform to open peer review preprints for free.

Lachlan Coin has argued that open peer review removes the false idea that a published paper is perfect. Academic Karma, the University of Queensland, Imperial College London, the Australian National University, and Cambridge University have launched a pilot peer review network. Any researcher at these universities can use this network to get peer review for their work on arXiv or bioRxiv. The system creates a file that has the open peer review and a summary of the strengths and limitations of the paper. This document can be submitted with the article to an open access journal.

Academic Karma and the Community

Initially, Academic Karma caused some controversy. It used ORCID data to create automatic profiles for scientists. This was done without their knowledge and these profiles were often incomplete. This means that a person who is an active reviewer may have less karma than they should. It also meant that researchers had Academic Karma profiles even if they didn’t want one. This practice has since been stopped.

Academic Karma is one more push towards open data. In order to benefit from Academic Karma, the data in an article must be freely available. It also understands the importance of giving credit for peer review. The platform hopes to encourage each researcher to do their fair share of peer review. The most recent thrust of Academic Karma is to try to build a global peer review network that will help reduce the unfair burden on a limited number of peer reviewers.

Have you tried out Academic Karma and their platform? Do you think that this platform would promote researchers to begin reviewing more research articles? Do you let us your thoughts in the comments!

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