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PEER - Questions & Answers


? What is the purpose of PEER?

PEER has been set up primarily to provide input for evidence based policy making in the area of Green Open Access. It is supported in part by the EC eContentplus Programme which has the aim of making digital content in Europe more accessible, usable and exploitable.


? The acronym PEER stands for ‘Publishing and the Ecology of European Research’. What does ‘ecology’ mean in this context?

One of the objectives of PEER is to determine whether the large-scale deposit of stage-2 research outputs in repositories will affect the broader ecology of European research and therefore the relations between different stakeholders and communities in research and academic publishing contexts. The attitudes and behaviours of the research community are probably the most important aspect of the evolution of their communication systems. Within PEER these attitudes and behaviours will be monitored through a qualitative and quantitative baseline study which will be further investigated during the project.


? What is a stage-2 manuscript?

The stage-2 version is the author’s accepted manuscript which includes all the changes made as part of the peer-review process, but is not the final published version.


? What is self-archiving?

Self-archiving refers to the practice of scholars depositing copies of their research papers in electronic repositories or ‘open archives’.


? What does an embargo on articles entail?

The embargo period determines the date of availability of a manuscript in a repository in accordance with the following formula: Publication Date (official date of publication by publisher) + embargo period = date of release at repository.


? What will PEER be investigating?

PEER has been set up to monitor the effects of systematic archiving over time and is investigating the effects of the large-scale, systematic depositing of authors’ final peer-reviewed manuscripts (so called Green Open Access or stage-2 research output) on reader access, author visibility, and journal viability, as well as on the broader ecology of European research. The project is a collaboration between publishers, repositories and researchers and will last from 2008 to 2012.


? Why is PEER running for more than three years?

PEER is running for a total of 45 months in order to provide enough time for the building of the observatory infrastructure and to ensure that a substantial volume of embargo expired manuscripts can be available simultaneously on both publisher and repository platforms for a long enough period to allow usage research results to be obtained with a high degree of confidence.


? What results may PEER produce?

PEER is on track to provide important results with the aim of informing evidence based policy making in the area of Green Open Access through:

  • Greater understanding of the effects of large-scale deposit in OA repositories
  • Scenarios illustrating how to maximise the benefits of traditional publishing and archiving
  • Fostering trust and mutual understanding between publisher and research communities.

Additionally, in creating the Observatory PEER has developed and implemented tools and processes which could be adopted or adapted for future projects or applications. PEER is also fostering a collaborative approach between publishers and the research and repository communities in seeking sustainable OA solutions.


? Yet another project on Open Access impacts. Why is PEER needed?

Prior to PEER there was no agreed evidence base for Green Open Access. PEER is creating an evidence-base for Green OA by involving different stakeholders such as publishers, repositories and funding agencies.


  • How does PEER differ from SOAP, another EU supported project looking at research outputs for journals?

PEER is investigating the effects of archiving stage-2 outputs in repositories ('Green Road'), while SOAP (project duration 2009‒2011) investigated Open Access journal publishing and therefore the Gold Road. The research on author and user behaviours and attitudes being undertaken by PEER also differs from SOAP’s research.

  • How does PEER differ from other Green OA projects?

PEER is a research project to determine an evidence-base for Green OA. Its unique characteristic is that it is the first project to conduct an experiment of a huge scale and scope on what the effects of Green Open Access may be for different stakeholders. Other projects are mainly dedicated to establishing an infrastructure for researchers to comply with Open Access or to offer tools for OA implementation.


? What research is PEER undertaking?

PEER has commissioned three independent research teams to work on the PEER observatory:

  • Behavioural research will address the role of Stage 2 (accepted) manuscript repositories in the scholarly communication system by exploring perceptions, motivations and behaviours of authors and users
  • Usage research will determine usage trends at publishers and repositories. For participating publishers and participating repositories, usage data will be available at the article level.
  • Economic research is focusing on efficiency and cost-effectiveness of deposit processes.


? What will be PEER deliverables for public release?

Public PEER deliverables are released in the report section of the PEER website. Within the project lifetime you will find there reports on the technical infrastructure dedicated to publishers and repositories, annual reports on project achievements and reports by the research teams. 


? Can PEER be considered to contribute positively to the implementation of mandates or does the project delay this development?

Mandates to deposit in open access repositories are still being introduced and implemented by funders, governments and other organisations while PEER is running. The goal of PEER is to provide evidence of the effects of large-scale, systematic depositing of authors’ final peer-reviewed manuscripts which can then inform future policy making with regard to mandates and associated embargo periods.


? Authors usually deposit to a repository connected to their institution or to a subject-based one fitting their discipline. Why should they deposit within PEER?

PEER will measure the usage & visibility of all accepted manuscripts deposited to the PEER repositories. If invited to do so, the author will be contributing to this important project by depositing his/her manuscript.


? What is long-term preservation?

Cultural heritage institutions are using specific preservation strategies to preserve physical collections, like climate control in depots of museums. There are also preservation strategies for digital objects – like articles of e-Journals – to keep the integrity and authenticity of these objects safe. Because of the limited duration of information carriers and the software and hardware, the techniques and procedures for long-term storage and accessibility requirements need to be adjusted and improved constantly. This is of high importance to provide permanent access to the digital content on different platforms and/or file formats.