If there's anything researchers hold near and dear, it's their overall body of work. And rightfully so. Every contribution to the academic community at large deserves its fair share of respect, as well as proper attribution.
However, there's just one issue – the sheer volume of global scientific output is, to be frank, staggering. Publishers have flooded the market with thousands of releases over the past few years alone, and there's plenty more on the way. That's why, amid this proverbial sky-high mound, it's possible for those serving in peer review and/or editorial roles to end up lost in the shuffle.
Thankfully, we here at eContent Pro International can recommend identification tools that help contributors crack down on misattribution. Today, let's discuss Publons.
What is Publons?
Publons is a website that allows academics to track, verify, and display their peer review and/or editorial achievements, free of charge. Essentially, Publons acts as a social network for over 600,000 researchers, used to showcase reviewers, journals, conferences, publications, and institutions alike.
So, how does it benefit the community?
With Publons, researchers’ publication history can be directly imported from partnered platforms like ORCID, Web of Science, EndNote, and Mendeley. Thousands of academic journals have also partnered with Publons to enable seamless verification of journal editing and peer review records. This ability to transfer data from one trusted source to another simplifies the user experience. Now it’s easier than ever for researchers to receive proper attribution – just sign up, create a profile, and log accomplishments in real time.
Andrew Preston and Daniel Johnston launched Publons in 2012 to “address the static state of peer-reviewing practices in scholarly communication.” Five years later, Clarivate Analytics (the organization behind Journal Citation Reports (JCRs) and impact factor) acquired this service, heightening its exposure in the process. Membership improved exponentially post-acquisition, exceeding 500,000 registered researchers in a year’s time. Clarivate wishes to continue the founders’ pursuit “to encourage collaboration and speed up scientific development” through networking sites like Publons.
The Verification Process
Publons is an efficient method for researchers to verify often overlooked contributions, like, for example, peer reviews. As mentioned earlier, Publons partners with thousands of academic journals, letting users update their profile’s review records in an instant.
How is this accomplished?
When submitting peer reviews with a partnered journal, users check the box asking “if you want to add a record of the review to Publons.” They will then receive a confirmation email that includes a hyperlink. Once the hyperlink is clicked, a record of the review will be added to that user’s profile.
If the user is filing a review with any non-partnered journal, they’ll still receive a confirmation email, usually sent by that journal’s editorial team. Upon receipt, all the user must do is forward the confirmation email to email@example.com. Boom. The user’s job is done. From there, Publons will contact the journal in question and verify this email, updating that user’s profile once said email is confirmed.
Publons can also help users verify yet another overlooked research contribution – the editorial record. Editors, much like peer reviewers, deserve proper attribution for their input, and this service made sure to accommodate all members of the academic publishing community. As efficient as it is to verify peer reviews with Publons, it’s just as efficient to import users’ editorial history.
When importing editorial records, a user has three options:
- Forward an editorial receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Screenshot the submission system and email images to email@example.com
- Fill-in manuscript details manually on the private dashboard
Much like with peer reviews, Publons will then do the dirty work, confirming that editorial receipts, screenshots, or dashboard details are legitimate and then updating the user’s profile accordingly.
But, wait, there’s more – let’s not forget that users can import past publications onto their Publons profile, too.
How? Well, a reviewer’s profile can be connected to other pre-existing profiles on outside resources like Web of Science or ORCID. Once connected, users can import their prior publication history onto their Publons profile with minimal effort. If that’s not viable, users can search and import publications via a virtual identifier–DOI, arXiv, or PubMed ID–instead. It’s even possible to compile the user’s publication history in RIS, CSV, or BibTex file format and then upload it, letting Publons sift through the data, track down all publications of that list, and import them to the user’s profile.
At the end of the day, it’s all just a matter of preference, and, thankfully, Publons gave their users plenty of options.
Impact Factor for Contributors
An impact factor (IF) evaluates the frequency, on average, articles from an indexed academic journal have been cited throughout any given year. These factors are then used to determine a journal's impact on the academic community, providing some measure of effectiveness by which journals can be ranked. Citations are all that matters when calculating impact factor – the more a journal’s content is cited, the more valuable a journal is perceived to be.
In short, impact factors calculate each journal’s “impact” on the industry, while Journal Citation Reports effectively rank said journals based on their impact factor.
Clarivate Analytics has established Publons as an equivalent to JCRs. However, Publons doesn’t only rank academic journals and it couldn’t care less about impact factor. All profiles–reviewers, journals, institutions–receive a ranking, based solely on peer review output. Researcher rankings are based on total reviews given. Journal rankings are based on total content reviews received. Institution rankings are based on total reviewers accommodated. Even countries/regions are ranked, judged purely on the quantity and quality of their overall reviewer representation.
By converting peer reviews into a tangible research output, Publons provides researchers with evidence, through their review and editorial record, of how much “impact” they, as a sole contributor, have on the academic publishing industry.
How to Register
Researchers should visit publons.com and click the “REGISTER” button in the top, right-hand corner. Then all pertinent information can be entered–email address, password, first name, and last name. A confirmation email will be sent to the address provided. Once the email has been opened and the activation hyperlink clicked, the user can officially log in. When logging in for the first time, Publons will guide new members through its interface/features with a quick, click-through tutorial. Upon completion, the user is free to do as they see fit.
Organizations–specifically publishers–cannot register through traditional means but can inquire about partnership opportunities via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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