In November 2017, Peerwith and Erasmus University Rotterdam came together for a pilot. Launched with Erasmus University’s library, the ‘Partnership Effect’ pilot was put in place to investigate how libraries can optimally facilitate access to the best and most affordable researcher services.
Explaining the purpose of the ongoing pilot, Ivo Verbeek, Director and Co-Founder of Peerwith, said, “It is in the interest of all academic institutions that their researchers can easily access the best and most affordable researcher services to improve the quality of their academic output. Services such as, language editing, grant proposal support, and publication and data policy consultancy. Peerwith, with its unique peer-to-peer model and flexible integration options, was the right partner to integrate these services efficiently within Erasmus University’s library and Medical Center offerings.”
The pilot invites researchers at Erasmus University and the Erasmus Medical Center to sign up for a private marketplace on Peerwith – www.peerwith.com/erasmus. In the marketplace Erasmus researchers can request researcher services from Peerwith experts and, if wished, register themselves as an expert to offer services to their peers. The main goal is for Erasmus researchers to collaborate and support one another.
Payments for services by experts outside of the institution are dealt with via the platform and (partially) covered by Erasmus University. Experts from Erasmus are rewarded for services provided to their peers with the newly launched PeerScienceCoin. PeerScienceCoin is a Peerwith issued token which then operates as a reward as Erasmus experts can use the tokens to purchase services themselves within the marketplace.
Matthijs van Otegem, Director of the Erasmus University Library, talks about why the university joined the pilot, “The library’s mission is to support the creation and exchange of knowledge. We do so by managing scientific content and by offering a broad range of services. This pilot allows us to connect an extensive range of research services, both from within and outside the university, and offer them through a single, user friendly interface. Our researchers can now easily contact experts to support them in the publication process.”
How PeerScienceCoin can be a reward-based token in science
As outlined above, PeerScienceCoin (PSC) is a blockchain token which can be used to purchase services on the Peerwith marketplace. However, it can also be used to make payments outside the Peerwith marketplace with partners. Our vision is for PSC to be a reward-based token in science, as the rationale behind its introduction is broader than just making Peerwith a more efficient marketplace for author services.
The vision for PSC is to become a generally accepted researcher token, used to reward researchers for carrying out services, such as performing peer review or providing support to peers with the publication process. Earned tokens can then be used to purchase services on Peerwith.
But the token could be applied much broader. The PSC could resolve many issues inherent with the current payment process around APCs. With the number of articles published in Open Access journals increasing authors, rather than libraries, are often carrying out financial transactions with publishers. This can lead to complicated administrative workflows, particularly in cases where payments are made with private credit cards which must be reimbursed by faculties or funders. Additionally, making payments online can be challenging in certain countries, including China. In general, the administration associated with these payments is cumbersome. PSC could simplify the process. If funders and faculties provided researchers with PSC tokens, purchased from Peerwith, APC charges could then be made with the PSC.
Additionally, PSC can also help differentiate between parties paying for and parties consuming a serviceon the Peerwith platform. Academic institutions and funders frequently finance services used by researchers, leading to complex and inefficient processes around payments and reimbursements. PSCs could be purchased upfront and then provided to researchers to purchase services on Peerwith. This would simplify budgeting for clients, allowing for real time overviews of spend and remaining budget.
The Erasmus University pilot is demonstrating that researchers are comfortable helping out peers in return for “rewards” rather than “payments”. While they can currently use these “rewards” to purchase services themselves on Peerwith, our ultimate vision is for the PSC to be used in a far broader way, such as, paying for services or APCs outside the marketplace with partners that support the coin.