Publons is a commercial website that provides a free service for academics to track, verify, and showcase their peer review and editorial contributions for academic journals. It was launched in 2012 and was bought by Clarivate Analytics in 2017 (which also owns Web of Science, EndNote, and ScholarOne). It claims that over 200,000 researchers have joined the site, adding more than one million reviews across 25,000 journals.
Publons produces a verified record of a person's review and editorial activity for journals, which can be downloaded to include in CVs, funding and job applications, and promotion and performance evaluations. Publons business model is based on partnering with publishers.
Publons was founded by Andrew Preston and Daniel Johnston to address the static state of peer-reviewing practices in academic research publishing, in view of encouraging collaboration and speeding scientific development. The Publons name is an homage to the "publon", the "minimum unit of publishable material". The company is registered in New Zealand and has an office in London, UK.
Publons also provides:
- tools for publishers to find, screen, contact, and motivate peer reviewers;
- data and publications about global peer review behaviour;
- peer review training for early-career researchers; and
- features for academics to discuss and evaluate published research.
Reviewers can choose whether or not to make the content of their reviews open access following publication of the reviewed publication, though journals can choose to override this. Review content is shared using a Creative Commons CC BY 4.0 license. Publons has partnerships with major publishers, including Springer Nature, Taylor and Francis, Oxford University Press, BMJ, SAGE, Wiley and more, and with related services such as Altmetric and ORCID.
The Publons Academy is Publons' peer review training course for early-career researchers. The free, online course requires students to practice writing real reviews that are assessed by a supervisor. Upon completion of the course, graduate reviewers are made discoverable to Publons partner journals on the site who can invite these reviewers to perform real pre-publication peer reviews.
Publons Peer Review Awards
Publons Peer Review Awards are recognitions for top peer reviewers and editors. Publons' Awards started in 2016. In 2017 an award program called the Sentinel Award was added, for outstanding advocacy, innovation or contribution to scholarly peer review.
TechCrunch remarked that lack of transparency leads to many problems in the publication process, and Publons purports to help with that. Research Information noted that while the site supports both pre- and post-publication review, not all reviews are published, in deference to existing publication norms. Nature noted that peer review is an important job, and reported on the reactions of two of Publons's most prolific reviewers.
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