Speeding up science through the power of peer review.
Scientific research is the key thing that moves our society forward, expanding the boundaries of human knowledge, enabling us to rigorously test which things are true, false, or needing further inquiry. It enables everything from cellphone technology to antibiotics.
The main output of scholarly research is published articles in peer-reviewed journals. Peer review is essential because it prevents incomplete or shoddy work from being accepted as scientific fact. The peer reviewers however don’t get any recognition or compensation for the work they do, and there is no standard system for rating the quality of their reviews. Finding the right reviewers for an article can be difficult too, and managing the review process is time consuming.
Publons solves these problems by augmenting the standard peer review process, improving reviewer selection, and giving authoritative credit to reviewers that they can use for career advancement. The net result is that the peer review process is shortened at the same time the quality of scientific output is increased. By turning peer review into a measurable research output, Publons provides a new lens through which the quality and significance of research, researchers, publications, and institutions can be evaluated and reported.
Publons was founded by Dr Andrew Preston and Daniel Johnston. After completing a Ph.D and post-doc work in solid-state physics, and publishing and peer reviewing a number of papers, Preston recognised the opportunity and started building the core of the Publons system. After being accepted into Lightning Lab Wellington 2013, Publons started building up its user base and inventory of journal articles. They now have over 50,000 users, 285,000 reviews, and thousands of journals in the system. Just over 1% of all reviews generated in 2015 globally were recorded by Publons.
Publons’ revenue model is based on fees collected from publishers to integrate into the platform, and charges to academic institutions and research funders who pay for access to tools that help them monitor and evaluate their research interests.
Preston moved to London mid-2015 to be closer to his main market – academic publishers. Much of the future growth of the company will be globally from the UK, while product development and operations remain in Wellington.
Publons recently closed a significant investment round for a small stake in the company by the fifth largest academic publisher in the world, SAGE. The investment will provide enough runway to last eighteen months or so as the company continues to expand its partnerships with publishers, grow its user community, and prove out the revenue model.
Publons is hiring devs, growth hackers, sales people, and a product manager in both Wellington and London. Do get in touch with them if you’re interested.
Disclosure: I’m Chairman of the Board of Publons, and part of the AngelHQ syndicate that provided their seed investment.