Preprint Peer Review and Curation

Support us in building capacity for preprint peer review and curation in Africa

AfricArXiv in collaboration with TCC Africa participated in the ASAPbio preprint sprint 2020 and won two (2) out of five (5) prizes:

Presentation slides: 

Proposal Nov 13, 2020

Background information on current practices
Across Africa due to numerous constraints and pressures, preprints are underutilised as a means for information sharing and to establish priority of discovery. This is in part because of limited technological resources and connectivity constraints, another reason lies in insecurity about ‘appropriate’ ways to publish and confusion about existing Open Access routes, which oftentimes seem to be tied to exorbitant and thus mostly unaffordable APCs.

Overview of the challenge to overcome
In Africa, only a few stakeholders exist that have both the capacity and the pan-African scope to educate and build capacity about the opportunities and regionally applicable research publishing workflows that are available today. African researchers are often struggling with low salaries and high teaching demands, which is why it is difficult for them to serve as reviewers in assessing other researchers’ works. We, therefore, need to establish a culture and transparent and easy to follow workflow which is mutually beneficial not only for the recipient of a peer review, but also for the reviewer.

The ideal outcome or output of the project
A community of 200 reviewers that signed up to a list and received training in best peer review practices (according to established/western standards), including an Africa-centric peer review design module to allow the cohort to establish peer review workflows that are adopted to the African context both culturally and technically.

Description of the intervention
Capacity building:​ A series of events; pandemic allowing also onsite but mostly online – also to allow for widest possible participation around the following topics

  • Peer review formats (blind, double-blind, open, etc) and their pros and cons
  • Rapid peer review for a speedy assessment of scholarly output
  • Best practices in peer review – developing guidelines and checkpoints towards a standardized approach by discipline
  • tbc
Tech development:​ tech design sprints involving African organisations and companies with expertise in digital workflows in low-connectivity settings.

Plan for monitoring project outcome
Progress and success of individual modules and events will be monitored through monthly reports and metrics (KPIs).

What’s needed for success

Additional technology development
Extra budget to pay for connectivity in low resource settings, e.g. setting up local wifi for co-design sprints, investing in equipment (laptops, data servers, digital resources)

Feedback, beta testing, collaboration, endorsement
We can work with various existing networks and scholarly communities such as regional research and education networks, the Alliance of African Universities, the African Academy of Sciences, and our respective organisational partners, see e.g.

AfricArXiv is early in the process of building financial sustainability for our services, and make all our finances as transparent as possible at ​ TCC Africa is a non-profit registered in Kenya.

Update: Dec 3, 2020

How has your project changed?
Through feedback and input received during and after the first round of the sprint we were able to narrow down the scope and liaise with PREreview and Sciety in detail to discuss partnership opportunities

Have you integrated any feedback received?
Yes, we adopted the slides accordingly, thanks to the discussions we now have a better idea of how we can best approach the initiative to build community for peer review on the continent by orchestrating expertise and features from current and prospective partner organisations, digital tools and scholarly networks inside and outside of Africa that have a focus on #PeerReview.

Have you started any collaborations?
Yes, with PREreview and Sciety as a direct result from the ASAPbio sprint and with other organisations and initiatives before and since then.
See a joint webinar we hosted (convened at Sep 21, 2020)
Owango, J., Obanda, J., Bourguet, D., Marinello, G., Saderi, D., Fornés, A. T., … Havemann, J. (2020). Rapid and Open Peer Review . AfricArXiv.


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Jens Bemme

Roadmap rollout

€20 EUR