Peer Community In for open hardware?

[Edited 07/03/2023 - added the correct link for PCI landing page]

Hi folks,

I just attended one of the Uni’s Open Research internal seminars, and got to learn about Peer community in (PCI) a project for review and recommendation of preprints. A very short description (from what I understood), is that:

  • there are subcommunities within the project dedicated to a topic (so there could be an open hardware subcommunity)
  • People submit their preprints for review on the community of choice. A “regular” peer review procedure goes on and after a couple of reviews, the preprint is “recommended” (just means it has gone through the review process and everyone is happy with the suggestions/additions etc)
  • At this point authors can decide to either publish it on the PCI platform, or a)choose a “PCI friendly journal” (there are ~90 of these journal currently, including some “prestigious names”) what would expedite publishing as review has already been made or b) choose to submit it to any journal and go through another round of peer review.

What I find interesting is that this decouples the review process from a specific journal and allows communities to focus their time and effort in work for the community. Or in other words, if there was a “open hardware PCI” it could pool current reviewers resources that are currently spread between say hardwareX and Journal of Open Hardware, and bring them under one roof. There it could define what a good review would look like, and what are the parameters for an open hardware paper to be considered “recommended”. After that authors are free to do with the pape whatever they want.

I wonder what people here think about this, and whether or not it is worth to look into it and create a PCI community for Open Hardware?


Very intriguing concept, @amchagas.

Seems very interesting

This sounds like a great idea. I have a couple of thoughts and questions on this:

  1. One of the benefits of having different journals is that you have the potential for a diverse sets of reviewers (in an ideal scenario). The open hardware PCI should be have mechanisms/metrics to ensure that its “diversity” is greater than the individual journals. We cannot have an echo chamber, one good way would be to be able to organically pool in the resources from the various participating journals towards expanding the PCI.
  2. In terms of open hardware papers, I’ve reviewed and written a set of these. I agree that there is a need for “recommended/best practices/standard” review for open hardware papers but that is just the bare minimum. The key aspect of writing an open hardware paper is to ensure reproducibility and giving the authors the feedback to shape the paper to allow for that. This might mean changing the experiments to do sufficient characterization, changing explanations and methods sections, coming up with metrics, how-to guides, etc.

I know that what I’m suggesting kind of goes in a different direction from what you’re wrote but I think we really need to see the gaps in the community as we build our ideas for a open hardware PCI.

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Thank you @amchagas! :100: I am aware of Peer Community In (PCI) and think it would be a great idea to have an open source hardware PCI, set up in coordination with the Journal of Open Hardware and HardwareX so that there can be a smooth pipeline between them.

How can we help make this happen?


I’m one of the “editors” of the managing board of the Peer Community in Ecology and a Recommender of PCI Evolutionary Biology (the first one that was created). Here is the main page of the project ( with many important informations about its functioning and FAQs, as well the steps to create a new one ( Andre sent the main page for Registered Reports, which is one of the most recent PCIs, focused in reviewing projects and proposals that then can be submitted to more specific PCIs.

As an old member of PCI Ecology I can say that the review process is really improved by the PCI proposal (reviews and a short text recommending the article are public) as well the transparency and reproducibility of studies.

If you have any specific questions, please contact me. I think that creating a PCI Open Hardware will be of great interest for the PCI project!




Thanks @juastegi! Great to know that there is already someone who is well versed on PCI in this community too. Also great to hear that using the PCI system has improved review, transparency and publishing.

This is something I think it would be really worth exploring for Open Hardware. From the guidelines on creating a new PCI, it requires a commitment from a critical mass of people (50 recommenders, a directing team, managing editors (to manage submissions), and to apply for the PCI a initial group of 20 people committed to submit their work to PCI preprint review → but a group of 5 co-authors in one paper is considered 1 commitment and not 5), and some funds too (~10k€/year).

From my understanding, this is then one of those things that we need to really plan and get some institutional support. And I guess the first step is to check if there is enough interest from this community but also other people that are part of the academic publishing open hardware topic. So I would say, we start the way we often times start things: a public call, explain the idea, get names of people interested in participating and take it from there? @juastegi, given your expertise with PCI would you be willing to give a small introduction to it on a public call? maybe 15-20 min? If you are keen, we could check with @briannaljohns when the next public call could be scheduled?

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@rkrishnasanka Thanks for raising these points! I agree with them completely, and I think they can be incorporated in the PCI once/if we decide to go for it. From what I understand, each PCI subcommunity can add specific requirements to meet the needs of their own fields…

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@juastegi I think JOH would benefit greatly from a PCI OScH especially from the reduced editorial workload. I have a few questions though.

Concerning just the Hardware Metapapers section of JOH, there is a particular manuscript format. It seems to me impractical to require the authors to conform to this format before even deciding where to publish their paper. How would this issue be handled?

Also regarding HW Metapapers section, it is hard to call it a (sub)field, since it covers OScH from a variety of fields. That section contains papers that describe how/why a piece of OScH was made, why it is needed, etc. It is part narrative, and not all about verifiable statements. I don’t know what the PCI would look like. I would appreciate your views.


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I would be interested in this.
I am drafting two papers for submission to JOH and HardwareX…
Would MDPI and IOP be able to be integrated into this kind of arrangement?

I do not fully grasp this project you are discussing. but anything that accelerates and enhances the efficiency of peer review is worth supporting in my book.

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@amchagas I talked with Thomas Guillemaud, one of the founders of PCI, and he will be pleased to give you a small talk about PCI functioning, history, and other questions that you may have about the project. Please, write to Thomas (, I’m sure he will be the indicated person to answer all your questions, including those of @Harold, because he has a broader view of PCI functioning (there are currently 16 different PCIs). Brief, PCI doesn’t have a specific format, you send your manuscript as a preprint already published in some public repository. Then, if your manuscript is recommended, we publish the recommendation, the link to the final preprint and all reviews. The PCI Journal was created last year and I’m not totally updated about its functioning, please ask Thomas about this point. About @Harold second question, I think that if PCI OScH goes in the line of the general spirit of PCI you can propose your own needs and ways to recommend the stuff you produce. In my opinion, It would be very interesting to diversify PCI in that sense. I think that things like these will need to be discussed by all members of the 16 PCI managing boards.