This page provides information for editors and publishers concerning journal adoption. We encourage representatives of journals that may be interested in joining PCI RR to read the FAQs below before applying. Applications are currently open and applicants are welcome to contact the PCI RR Managing Board
with any additional queries.
1. What is PCI and PCI RR?
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this researcher-run organisation is to create specific communities of researchers reviewing and recommending, for free, unpublished preprints in their field.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 in evolutionary biology, ecology, paleontology, animal science, zoology, circuit neuroscience, metascience, and genomics, with more in the pipeline. 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. 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 – usually 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 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. Crucially, reviewers do not relitigate the theory, hypotheses or methods, thus preventing knowledge of the results from influencing recommendations. PCI editors (termed “recommenders”) are similarly forbidden from rejecting a manuscript on the basis of any new concerns about the methodology or rationale, or on the basis of the main outcomes.
Following the completion of peer review, authors of RRs that are recommended (i.e. accepted) 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 review. PCI RR thus aims to become the central hub and clearing house for Stage 1 and Stage 2 RRs across all areas of research.
2. What is a Journal Adopter?
PCI RR adoption gives journals the opportunity to benefit from the rigour, transparency, and efficiency of the PCI RR process. Two categories of journal adoption are available: PCI RR-friendly and PCI RR-interested. Adoption is cost-free and carries multiple benefits for journals, authors and the wider research community.
2.1 PCI RR-friendly journals
The primary category of journal adoption is called PCI RR-friendly
. A PCI RR-friendly journal endorses the PCI RR review criteria
and commits to accepting without further peer review
any manuscript that achieves a positive final recommendation from PCI RR while also meeting any additional procedural requirements that do not require further scientific evaluation by the journal.
Such additional requirements could include falling within a defined disciplinary scope, meeting a prescribed word limit, achieving a minimum pre-planned strength of evidence (e.g. a minimum level of statistical power), or ensuring a minimum level of bias-control where data already exist. Authors intending to publish their RR in a PCI RR-friendly journal are advised to carefully consult the journal requirements to ensure that their submission is eligible.
Where any scientific or expert judgment is required to assess whether these additional requirements are met, a PCI RR-friendly journal commits to accepting the judgment of PCI RR without performing additional peer review.
Note that subjective judgments about the importance, novelty or timeliness of a research question are not relevant to judgment of research quality at PCI RR and are not assessed as an additional requirement by a PCI RR-friendly journal. A PCI RR-friendly journal will also not relitigate any scientific elements of the study that PCI RR has already approved, including adherence to the Stage 1 and Stage 2 review criteria.
The chief editor and associate editors of PCI RR-friendly journals are welcome to join PCI RR as recommenders
. See here
for a current list of PCI RR-friendly journals.
2.2 PCI RR-interested journals
PCI RR offers a secondary category of adoption called PCI RR-interested. A PCI RR-interested journal does not automatically accept PCI RR recommendations but has signed up to be alerted when a new Stage 1 in-principle acceptance (IPA) or Stage 2 acceptance is recommended by PCI RR. The journal can then contact the authors to arrange additional peer review or make a direct publication offer.
As part of the Stage 1 submission checklist, authors are asked whether they want PCI RR-interested journals to be informed if and when their manuscript receives a positive Stage 1 or Stage 2 recommendation from PCI RR. Where consent is given, the submission is then added to list of submissions accessible to PCI RR-interested journals. The list includes author names, contact details, the Stage 1 recommendation and reviews where authors elect to publish them prior to Stage 2 acceptance, and the URL to the Stage 1 manuscript registered by PCI RR. The journal then has the option to contact the authors directly, and independently of PCI RR, to suggest additional peer review or to make a direct offer of Stage 1 IPA or Stage 2 acceptance. A PCI RR-interested journal can also wait until a positive Stage 2 recommendation before making contact or offering publication. Any such communications or offers are independent of PCI RR.
3. What are the main benefits of PCI RR?
PCI RR benefits all stakeholders in the research and publishing process.
Rigorous and constructive peer review managed by the architects of the Registered Reports initiative
Rather than submitting to one journal at a time, manuscripts undergo a single peer review process that serves as a gateway to multiple journals
A positive recommendation from PCI RR gives authors the power to choose which (if any) PCI RR-friendly journal will publish the final Stage 2 article
No need for authors to decide which (if any) journal to submit their manuscript to until after a positive Stage 2 recommendation
The peer-reviewed manuscript remains hosted on a preprint server with the reviews and recommendation published at PCI RR
Novel policy features including programmatic RRs in which one Stage 1 manuscript forms the basis of multiple Stage 2 articles, and Scheduled Review to reduce the duration of initial Stage 1 review from weeks to days
For adopting journals and publishers
The opportunity to publish transparent high-quality RRs at no cost, transparently reviewed and recommended according to rigorous standards
Journal editors can join PCI RR as recommenders, overseeing the peer review of RRs both within and beyond their own journal, increasing their global reach
Allows journals that don't offer RRs as an internal article type to nevertheless publish RRs by using the PCI RR review infrastructure in place of a journal-based submission workflow
4. How can a PCI RR-friendly journal be sufficiently certain of the quality of the PCI RR review process to accept RRs that are recommended by PCI RR without additional peer review?
First, the Managing Board of PCI RR has substantial editorial experience in general (e.g. including the chief editor of BMJ Open Science, Emily Sena), and also includes Chris Chambers and Zoltan Dienes who have many years experience editing RRs. Chambers co-founded the RR format at the journal Cortex, currently serves as section editor for RRs at multiple journals and has handled hundreds of submissions. This core team will govern the PCI RR platform and ensure exceptional review standards. Along with all PCI communities, PCI RR is also a member of COPE.
Second, PCI RR includes a broad and diverse team of specialist recommenders, the PCI term for action editor. Editorial board members and associate editors at PCI RR-friendly journals are welcome to join PCI RR as recommenders, increasing overlap between PCI RR and journals. Editors in such circumstances are free to continue their existing role at their journal while also serving at PCI RR, and the journal can continue to offer a direct submission route for RRs alongside the PCI RR track. Editors who wish to join PCI RR are invited to complete a brief expression of interest or contact the PCI RR Managing Board (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Third, the criteria for the appointment of recommenders at PCI RR is stringent and includes an entrance exam that tests knowledge of Registered Reports and PCI RR policy, with careful oversight and ongoing mentoring by the PCI RR Managing Board. The PCI RR Managing Board oversees the review process for all PCI RR submissions, assessing and approving all PCI RR recommendations before they are issued.
Fourth, PCI RR adheres to high standards of transparency concerning open data and digital materials. In particular, PCI RR achieves TOP guidelines Level 2 or higher across all TOP standards, which means that all data, code and digital materials must be publicly archived to the maximum extent permitted by any ethical or legal restrictions.
Finally, PCI RR-friendly journals can set additional quality requirements to automatically accept positive PCI RR recommendations, including falling within a defined disciplinary scope, achieving a minimum pre-planned strength of evidence (e.g. a minimum level of statistical power), or ensuring a minimum level of bias-control where data already exist. The journal will also retain the right to ask authors to make cosmetic changes to accepted manuscripts (e.g. to address any formatting issues), and any Stage 2 RR submission will provide a link to the peer reviews and recommendation published at PCI RR.
5. If a recommended RR is published in a journal, will it also be published by PCI RR?
No. Because PCI RR recommends manuscripts deposited on a preprint server or repository (e.g., ArXiv, BioRXiv, Zenodo, OSF), publication of the Stage 1 and Stage 2 manuscripts will fall within the terms of the journal’s preprint policy and will not constitute dual publication. Hence, each accepted Stage 2 RR could be published in one peer-reviewed journal at most. PCI RR itself publishes only the recommendation and reviews, which can be signed or anonymous.
6. If a submission falls within the remit of multiple journals, would any one journal have an exclusive right to publish it?
No. In the case of PCI RR submissions being recommended and eligible for multiple PCI RR-friendly journals, the authors choose the outlet. This could include any PCI RR-friendly journal that commits to endorsing PCI RR recommendations, or no journal if the authors prefer their Stage 2 manuscript to be hosted solely on their preferred preprint server with the recommendation and reviews at the PCI RR platform.
7. At what stage in the PCI RR process would authors submit a manuscript to a PCI RR-friendly journal?
When a PCI RR submission receives a positive Stage 1 recommendation, all PCI RR-friendly journals automatically offer in-principle acceptance (IPA) subject to the manuscript meeting any additional stated requirements (see the complete submission workflow). For PCI RR-friendly journals, the final commitment to publish applies only following a positive Stage 2 recommendation. For this reason, authors who intend to publish their RR in a PCI RR-friendly journal need to submit to a specific journal only following the completion of this final Stage 2 review process.
8. Where a journal already offers RRs, does the PCI RR track replace the journal's internal RR track?
There is no requirement to do so. A PCI RR-friendly journal can continue to offer both internal and PCI RR tracks for RRs, or, if it wishes, it is free to use PCI RR instead of its internal track.
9. Is this initiative specific for RRs, or does it also include other article types?
PCI RR is concerned only with RRs, across any area of research, and does not include other article types.
10. Is there a subscription fee for becoming a PCI RR-friendly or PCI RR-interested journal?
No. PCI RR is free to use for journals and authors.
11. Can a PCI RR-friendly journal still levy an article processing charge (APC) or any other fees?
Yes. A PCI RR-friendly journal is free to charge such fees, provided they are no greater than the fees charged for RRs or regular empirical articles submitted directly to the journal. Where a PCI RR-friendly journal publishes RRs or regular empirical articles with zero APC via a direct submission track (as is the case with traditional subscription journals), then this same fee-exempt option must be offered for RRs received via PCI RR. Any such fees are shown as part of the PCI RR-friendly journal listing. Since authors who receive a positive PCI RR Stage 2 recommendation have the choice to publish in any PCI RR-friendly journal (conditional on meeting any additional stated journal requirements), PCI RR creates a competitive market.
12. What is the complete set of requirements for becoming a PCI RR-friendly journal?
A PCI RR-friendly journal has a preprint-compatible submission policy and accepts that the PCI RR Stage 1 and Stage 2 review criteria are sufficient for determining publishability of RRs in the journal. A PCI RR-friendly journal also has the option to set additional requirements that go beyond PCI RR requirements, specifically concerning:
- Minimum pre-planned evidence strength
- Minimum level of bias control
- Falling within the disciplinary scope of the journal
- Falling within the methodological scope of the journal (specifically concerning quantitative or qualitative research, and whether the journal accepts meta-analyses, systematic reviews, systematic maps, or scoping reviews as RRs)
- Whether the manuscript reports a regular or programmatic RR. All PCI RR-friendly journals will accept regular RRs (in which one Stage 1 manuscript is associated with one Stage 2 output) but also have the option to accept programmatic RRs (for which one Stage 1 manuscript is associated with multiple Stage 2 outputs)
- Achieving minimum journal requirements concerning availability of data, digital materials and code
- Complying with journal requirements concerning formatting and word-count
- Identification of reviewers (e.g. where the journal policy requires reviews to be signed)
- Payment of any applicable APCs or other fees (e.g. submission fees, page charges, colour figure charges etc)
- Any additional bespoke conditions as negotiated with the PCI RR Managing Board
Importantly, a PCI RR-friendly journal commits to accepting the judgment of the PCI RR Managing Board and recommenders (in consultation with specialist reviewers recruited by PCI RR) in determining whether a submission meets the PCI RR review criteria and any additional requirements concerning evidence strength, bias control, disciplinary scope, methodological scope, data/materials/code availability, identification of reviewers, and any bespoke conditions agreed with the PCI RR Managing Board.
A PCI RR-friendly journal commits to accepting these judgments by PCI RR without performing additional peer review. Editors from PCI RR-friendly journals are welcome to join PCI RR so that they can actively participate in this decision process.
13. Under what circumstances would a journal prefer to become PCI RR-friendly?
A journal is suited to becoming PCI RR-friendly where it agrees with PCI RR policies and seeks to not only maximise the opportunity to publish articles recommended by PCI RR but to also contribute to the evaluation of RRs that are published in other journals (or in no journal). PCI RR-friendly journals are likely to be popular with authors because a positive Stage 2 recommendation from PCI RR guarantees publication in an eligible journal without further peer review. A journal may also seek to become PCI RR-friendly where it seeks to form a close relationship with PCI RR, or where it wishes to use the PCI RR review infrastructure in place of setting up a bespoke submission workflow within the journal.
14. Under what circumstances might a journal prefer to become PCI RR-interested?
A journal may prefer to be listed as PCI RR-interested where it wants to reserve the right to perform additional peer review of RRs that receive a positive recommendation by PCI RR. For example, in determining the publishability of a RR, the journal may decide to apply additional review criteria to those assessed by PCI RR, or the journal may want to perform its own scientific evaluation of the existing PCI RR review criteria, the level of bias control, the pre-planned evidence strength, or the disciplinary fit of the submission. As noted above, if authors consent then PCI RR-interested journals will gain access to a list of submissions that have received a positive Stage 1 or Stage 2 recommendation by PCI RR (including author names, contact details, Stage 1 recommendation and reviews where authors elect to publish them prior to Stage 2 acceptance, and the URL to the Stage 1 manuscript registered by PCI RR). The journal then has the option to contact the authors directly (and independently of PCI RR) to suggest additional peer review or to make a direct offer of acceptance to the authors. A PCI RR-interested journal can also wait until a positive Stage 2 recommendation before making any such contact or a publication offer.
15. Does PCI RR publish the reviews of rejected submissions?
No. The complete review history and recommendations (i.e. editorial decision letters) are published only for submissions that receive a positive (accept) recommendation.
16. Does a journal need to implement a general open review policy to become PCI RR-friendly?
No. Where a journal has a closed review process, there is no need for the journal to alter its policy provided it is happy for RRs submitted to the journal via the PCI RR track to be uniquely associated with open review histories. Any submitted Stage 2 RR via the PCI RR track will contain a URL to the reviews at PCI RR, which are published with a DOI, so the journal does not need to create infrastructure for supporting open review.
17. Can a journal obtain the identity of an anonymous reviewer who contributes to PCI RR?
No. Where a reviewer chooses to remain anonymous, PCI RR will not reveal their identity to an external party, including a PCI RR-friendly journal, PCI RR-interested journal, or any other journal. A PCI RR-friendly journal trusts the quality of the review process to ensure that the recommender and PCI RR Managing Board have recruited sufficiently qualified reviewers. However, the identity of reviewers who sign their reviews will be made public and in that case will be available to all journals.
18. Can a journal become PCI RR-friendly only for submissions where reviewers agree to sign their reviews?
Yes. As a condition of endorsing PCI RR recommendations, journals can require a submission to be accompanied by open signed reviews. This requirement will appear in the PCI RR journal listing, and as part of the submission process, authors can opt for a review process in which only reviewers who agree to sign their reviews are recruited.
19. Can members of a journal's editorial board (including the chief editor) also serve as PCI RR recommenders?
Yes. We welcome editors to further strengthen the expertise of the growing PCI RR community. Interested applicants are invited to submit an expression of interest and can contact the PCI RR Managing Board with any queries (email@example.com). All applications are considered confidentially on a case-by-case basis. Applications are invited not only from journals that are PCI RR-friendly, but from all reputable high-quality journals in all research areas.
20. What additional infrastructure does a journal need to build in order to become PCI RR-friendly?
None. Because authors are likely to submit to a journal only following a positive Stage 2 recommendation, the entire review process is governed externally to the journal. This means that authors can submit a completed Stage 2 RR to a journal using the journal’s existing infrastructure, bypassing the Stage 1 submission process. Once the Stage 2 manuscript is received and confirmed to meet requirements, the action editor then issues an immediate Accept decision without soliciting additional peer review. The only required change in workflow would be at the typesetting stage to ensure that the article is identified as a Registered Report in the banner.
21. How do PCI RR-friendly journals appear on the PCI RR web site?
The list of PCI RR-friendly adopters is arranged in a tabular format with one entry per journal. Separate fields provide the following information:
- Journal name
- Statement of commitment, including a general description of the commitment and any additional conditions, e.g. "[Journal Name will automatically offer Stage 1 in-principle acceptance (IPA) to any quantitative Stage 1 RR within the journal’s field remit that receives IPA at PCI RR, and will accept without further peer review any Stage 2 RR that has been recommended by PCI RR, subject to the manuscript meeting the applicable journal requirements concerning statistical thresholds, bias control, and formatting."
- Disciplinary scope, defined as broadly or as precisely as the journal chooses
- Word limits, including information about any overall or section-specific word limits or other formatting requirements
- Whether the journal will accept RRs describing qualitative research
- Whether the journal will accept RRs describing quantitative research
- Minimum required thresholds for pre-planned statistical evidence, where applicable, e.g. “For studies employing null hypothesis significance testing: power ≥ 0.90 and alpha ≤ .05 for all preregistered hypothesis tests. For studies employing Bayesian hypothesis testing, data collection until Bayes Factor (BF)>6 in favour of H1 or H0 for all preregistered hypotheses OR authors can specify a maximum feasible sample size at which data collection must cease regardless of the BF, provided the sample is sufficiently large that inconclusive results at this sample size would be an important message for the field”
- Minimum required level of bias control to protect against prior data observation, as defined by the PCI RR taxonomy
- Policy for sharing of data, code and digital materials, including whether the journal policy is more stringent than PCI RR or the same/less stringent
- Whether the journal will accept RRs describing meta-analyses, systematic reviews, systematic maps, or scoping reviews
- Whether the journal will accept Programmatic RRs
- Where the journal is fully open access, details of any article processing charge
- Submission fee, where applicable
- Any other publication charges, where applciable, such as colour figure charges or page charges
- Whether the journal offers the opportunity for authors to publish their Stage 1 manuscript in the journal as a separate article, e.g. Study Protocol
- Whether the journal requires peer reviews provided by PCI RR to be signed in order to automatically endorse PCI RR recommendations
- Whether the journal imposes any additional conditions or requirements, as negotiated with PCI RR
A journal will not be added to the list until all elements are agreed between the journal and PCI RR.
22. How does PCI RR assess whether research meets ethical requirements?
Where applicable, all Stage 1 submissions must obtain ethical approval for full Stage 1 IPA to be awarded. In addition, due to variations in ethical standards between fields, institutions and countries, PCI RR is vigilant to the possibility that approval by a research ethics committee or institutional review board does not guarantee that the proposed research falls within established ethical norms. For these reasons, reviewers and recommenders assess the ethical status of the research as part of the evaluation (captured within Stage 1 Criterion 1A). Where a submission is judged by the reviewers, recommender or Managing Board to fail to meet necessary ethical standards, it will be rejected by PCI RR. The Managing Board assesses all submissions and consults with recommenders about any areas of concern.
23. How financially sustainable is PCI?
The PCI initiative is funded by a distributed network of European universities, institutions and learned societies (see here for a complete listing). The operating costs of the initiative are low (see a cost breakdown here) and the distributed model makes it both highly sustainable and resilient to the potential loss of any individual funder.