Introduction to PCI, Registered Reports, and PCI Registered Reports
The Peer Community In (PCI) initiative is a non-profit, non-commercial platform that publishes the peer-reviews of preprints. The overarching aim of this researcher-run organisation is to create specific communities of researchers reviewing and recommending, for free, unpublished preprints in their field. PCI communities have so far been created across a wide range of sciences and are expanding rapidly. Once the submissions are accepted (or, in PCI terms, “recommended”) following peer review, the revised manuscript is posted at the preprint server where the preprint is hosted, and the peer reviews and recommendation of the preprint are posted at the PCI website. Authors then have the option to also publish the preprint in a traditional journal.
PCI Registered Reports (PCI RR) is a new community dedicated to receiving, reviewing, and recommending Registered Reports (RRs) across the full spectrum of STEM, medicine, the social sciences and humanities. RRs are a form of empirical article in which study proposals are peer reviewed and pre-accepted before research is undertaken. By deciding which articles are published based on the question and proposed methods, RRs offer a remedy for a range of research biases, including publication bias and reporting bias.
Peer review for a RR takes place over two stages (see How it works). At Stage 1, authors submit their research question(s), theory and hypotheses (where applicable), detailed methods and analysis plans, and any preliminary data as needed. Following detailed review and revision – according to specific criteria – proposals that are favourably assessed receive in-principle acceptance (IPA), which commits PCI RR to recommending the final article regardless of the outcomes, provided the authors adhere to their approved protocol and interpret the results in line with the evidence. Following IPA, authors then register their approved protocol in a recognised repository, either publicly or under a temporary embargo. Then, after completing the research, they (the authors) submit a Stage 2 manuscript that includes the approved protocol plus results and discussion, which may include clearly labelled post hoc analyses in addition to the preregistered outcomes. The reviewers from Stage 1 then return to assess the completed Stage 2 manuscript, focusing on compliance with protocol and whether the conclusions are justified by the evidence.
When a recommender decides to recommend a report, they (the recommender) write a recommendation. This recommendation is essentially a short article, similar to a News & Views piece, describing the context of the study and explaining why this research is particularly interesting. This recommendation and all of the editorial correspondence (reviews, recommender's decisions, authors’ replies) associated with the recommended report are published by PCI RR. The manuscript itself remains on the preprint server and is not separately published by PCI RR.
Following the completion of peer review, authors of RRs that are positively recommended have the option to publish their articles in the growing list of PCI RR-friendly journals that have committed to accepting PCI RR recommendations without further peer review. The complete set of Stage 1 and Stage 2 reviews solicited by PCI RR (signed or anonymous) and recommender decision letters are then published on the PCI RR website and assigned a DOI. Any Stage 2 RR that is published in a journal will contain a link to the reviews.