In November 2017, the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR) published a report outlining the technologies and behaviours of the Next Generation Repository (NGR). In the report, the NGR Working Group argues that repositories must take their place in a resource-centric network, where the individual resources (metadata and actual content) within the repositories are interconnected on the Web both with each other and, more importantly with resource-oriented networked services. These links between resources and overlay services can bring many new opportunities for broadening the scope of the services offered by repositories and 3rd party initiatives. The emphasis on moving to a fully resource-centric paradigm presented in the vision for the Next Generation Repository offers an opportunity to exploit what programmers call “pass by reference” – a notion which underlies the fundamental function of the Web.
One specific use case related to this vision is the linking of repository resources with services providing commentary, annotation and peer reviews; a use case that is currently being considered by several different initiatives in the scholarly communications landscape. The wide distribution of resources (typified by articles) in repositories, coupled with the growing interest in overlay journals, introduces the possibility of adopting an asynchronous notification paradigm to achieve interoperability between repositories and peer review systems.
In January 2020, COAR convened a meeting to investigate the potential for a common approach that would connect repositories with overlay peer-review services, and, therefore connecting primary scholarly resources with reviews. A number of different use cases were presented, each with their own unique attributes. However, it became clear that there are significant similarities in terms of workflows, functionalities, and objectives that a common approach can be developed.
The use cases involve interactions between an author of an article and peer reviewers (e.g., overlay journal). The typical peer review workflow involves a number of exchanges such as: submission of article, rejection or acceptance to undertake the review, request for revision of article, and acceptance or rejection of article for publication. While there are other potential nuances or alternatives to this workflow, these represent the majority of the communications described in each of the use cases. We envision that this approach could be adopted for a number of different communities and domains, with varying peer review practices, as well as can be expanded to a variety of content types beyond articles, such as research articles.