Publisher seeks patent related online peer review and publishing process

Nature News, 7 May 2010, by Declan Butler:


A scientist in Switzerland is seeking to patent a system for peer reviewing and publishing scientific papers online, Nature  has learned.

Henry Markram, a neuroscientist and publishing entrepreneur who works at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, last year filed internationally for a broad patent on systems for interactive online peer review and publishing open-access journals.

The application, says Markram, was filed mainly to protect a fleet of author-pays, open-access journals published by the Lausanne-based Frontiers Media, a company he created in 2008 with his wife Kamila Markram, another neuroscientist at the EPFL.

…The main innovative features of both the journals and the patent, says Markram, are real-time evaluation of papers and a high degree of automation. Software matches articles to potential reviewers, and authors and referees discuss comments and revisions in an online forum, for example.

The result is just like an Internet discussion group, with editors and authors able to follow comment threads in real time, says Robert Harvey, a molecular neuroscientist at the School of Pharmacy, University of London, who has experience of Frontiers journals as both an editor and an author.