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Time for a Change?

Peerage of Science, a new online social network for researchers, seeks to change the peer review system, reports ScienceInsider's Jop de Vrieze. Researchers at the University of Jyväskylä and at the University of Eastern Finland have launched the Web site, which de Vrieze says "could eventually replace or supplement the current way journals get scientists to peer review submitted manuscripts." Once researchers submit their manuscripts, members who have volunteered to review papers are alerted to those submissions, based on their areas of expertise. Once the volunteers have reviewed the papers, journals can then use those assessments to decide whether to publish the research, de Vrieze says. To prevent bias, researchers are not allowed to review papers written by their colleagues at the same institution.

Science's de Vrieze notes that "the current peer review system … is hotly debated."

Many scientists complain that the system is slow, inefficient, of variable quality, and prone to favoritism. Moreover, there's growing resentment in some quarters about being asked to take valuable time to provide free reviews to journals that are operated by for-profit publishers or that don't make their papers open-access. Several suggestions have been made to improve the peer review system, such as introducing credits for reviewers, using social media, and making the process more transparent.

Peerage of Science, he adds, "aims to combine these ideas."

The Scan

Renewed Gain-of-Function Worries

The New York Times writes that the pandemic is renewing concerns about gain-of-function research.

Who's Getting the Patents?

A trio of researchers has analyzed gender trends in biomedical patents issued between 1976 and 2010 in the US, New Scientist reports.

Other Uses

CBS Sunday Morning looks at how mRNA vaccine technology could be applied beyond SARS-CoV-2.

PLOS Papers Present Analysis of Cervicovaginal Microbiome, Glycosylation in Model Archaea, More

In PLOS this week: functional potential of the cervicovaginal microbiome, glycosylation patterns in model archaea, and more.