Reviewing conference preprints.

Recently we tweeted the reasons for peer-reviewing but not for journals:

Its important to clarify what we mean by ‘for’ here:  we use it to mean as the primary purpose of the review. So by all means share a content-open preprint with a journal considering publishing the article.  Also, by content-open we mean making the content of the review open, but potentially choosing to remain anonymous.  Junior researchers  justifiably worry about implications of non-anonymously criticising senior researchers in their field.

One way to peer-review, but not primarily ‘for’ journals is to review a preprint which was presented at a conference you attend.  The advantages are that you get the chance to hear the author explain the work in person, and you can also ask them to clarify anything which was unclear in the preprint.

In order to make this easier, we have implemented a feature which lists preprints presented at selected conferences.  If you would like this feature enabled for an upcoming conference, you can register it here, and let us know so we can help you curate the list of preprints.

One great example of this is the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution conference (SMBE16):

In order to try to encourage more ‘conference preprint’ peer-review, we are going to award $200USD to the most endorsed review of a preprint presented at SMBE16.  The rest of this post is a primer on how to use Academic Karma to review a SMBE16 preprint.  In order to review a preprint you dont need to register specifically for Academic Karma, but you do need an ORCID identifier (

Step 1:  Choose a preprint to review here:

Step 2:   Click on the ‘Review’ link, which takes you to the review page for that particular paper. For illustrative purposes, we are going to do a review of : A profile-based method for identifying functional divergence of orthologous genes in bacterial genomes.

Step 3:  On the review page, click on the ‘Review this paper’ link


Step 4: This takes you to a  login-page for logging into Academic Karma via your ORCID.  Once you have logged in you will be automatically redirected to the review page.



Step 5:  Write and submit the review.  You can specify who contributed to the review, whether you would like the comments sent via email directly to the author, if you would like to have the reviewed cc’d (e.g. to an editor), if you would like to sign the review, and an ’embargo period’ before the comments become publicly visible (allowing the authors to respond to the review before it goes live).


Step 6: Thats it!    Maybe tweet the review if you would like and ask people if they would like to endorse it.


To endorse a review, just click on the endorse button (you need to be logged in, but its easy to log in using your ORCID or twitter credentials.


All completed reviews are listed alongside the preprints here:



1 thought on “Reviewing conference preprints.

  1. Pingback: Prize for most endorsed review of #SMBE16 preprint | Academic Karma

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