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How to be part of this
Unjournal call for participants and research
Dec. 2022: "Needs are ongoing". We have chosen people for the Founding Committee, but please complete the form anyways if you are interested. We're still very interested in people for the Advisory Board and Reviewer Pool, and aim to expand the Management Committee soon.
I am David Reinstein (Senior Economist at Rethink Priorities, following 15 years in academia, and a supporter of open science). I am writing with an open call for committee members, board members, reviewers, and suggestions of relevant work for a new peer-review initiative (not a publication!) called The Unjournal.
The Unjournal team is building a system for credible, public, journal-independent feedback and evaluation of research. Peer review can be slow; our system will enable researchers to get more prompt, efficient, and substantive feedback and advice, with metrics and signals of quality. The Unjournal will also help researchers advance, promote, and improve their work, while still allowing them to submit it to traditional journals at any point in the process.
Our initial focus: research relevant to global priorities, particularly in the fields of quantitative social science (including economics) and impact evaluation. We aim to encourage posting research in public, open formats, that support replicability and robustness. Rather than ‘finished frozen publications’, we wish to foster a living and continually-improved approach to research projects; we hope that the papers we review will be improved, extended, and may even be re-assessed in future versions.
Briefly, the Unjournal’s process is:
- Identify or invite contributions of relevant research that is publicly hosted on any open platform or archive in any format .
- Publicly post and link all reviews of the work. Award financial prizes for work judged strongest.
- Note: Some specific exceptions for ECRs, allowing them to hide/embargo negative reviews.
- Note: We currently allow evaluators to choose if they wish to remain anonymous, or to 'sign their reviews.'
- Aim to be as transparent as possible in these processes.
The Unjournal project has a small amount of funding and we are in a pilot phase. We maintain an open call for participants in three different roles:
- 1.Management committee members (small honorariums for time spent),
- 2.Advisory board members (supporters, unpaid, no time-commitment), and
- 3.a pool of Reviewers (who will be paid for their time; we may draw reviewers from outside this pool, of course).
The roles are explained in more detail below and there is a form in which you will be able to express your interest.
We are also looking for high-quality, globally-pivotal research projects to evaluate, particularly those embodying open science practices and innovative formats. We are putting out an informal call for relevant research, with small bounty prizes for suggestions. You can suggest your own work, or other authors or projects. For details of the prizes, what we are looking for, and give some potential examples, see this post, and accompanying links.
Founding committee members' activities will involve:
- Working with other founding committee members on a set of rules and guidelines. E.g., ‘which metrics to evaluate research’, ‘how to publish the assessments’.
- Helping plan The Unjournal’s future path.
- If your time and funding permits, helping manage ‘which research to focus on’, assigning reviewers, and awarding prizes (we will try to keep this responsibility light).
Time commitment: Minimum of 5-10 hours total over the next 9 months, plus editorial activities (perhaps a few hours per month, as available and as needed).
Compensation: We have funding for a $50 per hour honorarium for the first 5-10 hours; we are seeking further funding.
All applicants are welcome. We are interested in people with a range of experiences and skills, including in global priorities research and related fields, other academic research, policy research and practice, open science and meta-science, and bibliometrics and scholarly publishing. Individuals with a solid interest in the Unjournal project and its goals, and who are able to meet the (minimal) time commitment, would be a great fit. Note that applying is extremely quick, and if you are not chosen, we will consider you for other roles and work going forward.
Advisory board members: As well as this role, we are seeking to build a larger, more passive advisory board, to offer very light touch guidance. Being a member of this board brings no time obligation, but you may occasionally be consulted. We are looking for active researchers, practitioners, and stakeholders with a strong publication record who are affiliated with an academic, governmental or relevant non-profit institution.
Reviewers: We will reach out to reviewers on a case-by-case basis, appropriate for each paper/project being assessed (expertise, interest, lack of COI). However, we are also putting together a list of people interested in being a reviewer and doing paid referee work for the Unjournal - these will often be the first people we look to when considering potential reviewers. The compensation will be $250 per review, with some additional funding for ‘best-reviewer’ prizes. Again, we hope to be able to increase these amounts as funding permits.
Once again, we are very interested in finding relevant research work to evaluate and assess during this pilot phase, and we are offering small bounties. You may also want to put forward your own work.