Open Access ensures that all of the work we publish is available for researchers everywhere to build on. However, making the publication Open Access is only the first step. The reproducibility of the research is another crucial element to keep science moving forward. In July (blog post), we announced our intention to launch a pilot to support improved reproducibility of systems biology or physiology-based models that are submitted to PLOS Computational Biology. This pilot will offer expert technical peer review, specifically checking that submitted systems biology or physiology-based models run according to the results presented in the manuscript. The peer review will be delivered in addition to our usual scientific assessment of the manuscript and it will be optional for authors to take part for the duration of the pilot.
We are happy to announce that from the 5th of May, authors with relevant models in their manuscript will be able to take part in this pilot simply by ticking the appropriate boxes at submission. If they do choose to participate and meet our criteria, they will receive additional expert technical peer review comments specifically regarding whether the reviewer is able to reproduce their results using the data and code available within the manuscript. The report will outline the results the reviewer was able to achieve, and give guidance to the authors to support them in improving the reporting and reproducibility of their models.
This pilot is made possible by our collaboration with the Center for Reproducible Biomedical Modelling who will be providing this expert assessment in its first stages. We will report back on the outcomes of this trial; we want to know if this is a valuable option for authors, and if it is an effective process to increase reproducibility. At acceptance, authors taking part in the trial will also have the option to make the peer review reports available in our published peer review — thus further increasing transparency on these articles.
*Note: this post was amended on May 7th to provide additional detail