Reviewed by: Michael R. Blake, Digital Resources Librarian, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
PeerJ is a peer-reviewed, open access, scholarly journal that publishes research articles in the areas of the Biological Sciences, the Medical Sciences, and the Health Sciences (it “does not accept Literature Review Articles, Hypothesis Papers, Commentaries, Opinion Pieces, Case Studies, Case Reports etc. which may instead be submitted to PeerJ PrePrints”). It also pushes the edges of how we think about academic publishing.
PeerJ employs a “Pay once, publish for life” model, with an array of membership plans for individuals, co-authors / groups, and institutions. These plans include Basic, Enhanced, and Investigator, with individual plans’ costs ranging from $99 to $349, allowing one, two, or an unlimited number of publications per year. There is also a free membership that allows authors to submit one PeerJ Preprint per year without cost (for early feedback and credit and no requirement to publish in PeerJ). PeerJ identifies the various levels of membership as “optimized” for different purposes and researchers, from Free (for “testing the waters”) to Basic (for graduate students) to Enhanced (for post-docs) to Investigator (for “Lab heads & high-volume authors”).
A new publishing twist introduced by the PeerJ group is that of “Academic Contribution.” This is a measure of everyone who contributes to the success of PeerJ articles; a number is given for various levels of contribution and is then published on the person’s PeerJ profile page. This is an effective way to recognize the “hidden” efforts in bringing a piece to publication – efforts that heretofore have been unrecognized or forgotten.
PeerJ articles include the standard sections found in more traditional print, peer-reviewed pieces: Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results and Discussion, Conclusions, Acknowledgements, and References. You will also find here “Supplemental Information,” such as basic research data, program scripting, and software. An “Additional Information and Declarations” section is included; “Competing Interests,” “Author Contributions,” “Field Study Permissions,” and “Funding” are a few of the items in this section. Many of the tables and figures have their own DOIs.
PeerJ’s innovative approach to academic publishing – which offers novel (and modestly priced) membership levels while allowing authors an unlimited number of pages, figures, and tables for their manuscripts – enables academic researchers to keep costs down while providing as much information as needed by colleagues reading about their research.
This new venue is a welcome addition to academic publishing, and this title is recommended to all academic libraries supporting research in biological, health, and medical sciences. [Note well: Peter Binfield, the co-founder and publisher of PeerJ, was “most recently [at] the Public Library of Science (PLoS)… [where] he ran PLoS ONE, and developed it into the largest and most innovative journal in the world.” It’s worth your while to take a look at the stellar folks who’ve developed PeerJ – it reads like a who’s who of online publishing.]