About PCI Math Comp Biol

What is PCI Math Comp Biol​?

PCI Math Comp Biol has been launched in March 2020. It is a community of recommenders devoted to reviewing, improving and recommending high-level scientific articles previously posted on open archives in mathematical and computational sciences applied to all fields of biology. Evaluation and recommendation by PCI Math Comp Biol are free of charge. When recommenders decide to recommend an article, they write a recommendation text that is published along with all the editorial correspondence (reviews, recommender's decisions, authors’ replies) by PCI Math Comp Biol. The article itself is not published by PCI Math Comp Biol; it remains on the preprint server where it was posted by the authors. PCI Math Comp Biol recommenders can also recommend postprints, but this is done to a lesser extent.

PCI Math Comp Biol is a community of the parent project Peer Community In, an original idea of Denis Bourguet, Benoit Facon and Thomas Guillemaud.

PCI Math Comp Biol is not designed to be a free peer reviewing service for authors aiming to improve their articles before submission to a journal, although, of course, it remains possible to submit a recommended preprint to a traditional journal​.

  • PCI Math Comp Biol is stimulating: it recommends remarkable articles.
  • PCI Math Comp Biol is free: there are no fees associated with the evaluation process, and no charge for access to the comments and recommendations. The website is freely accessible.
  • PCI Math Comp Biol is transparent: reviews and recommendations (for unpublished articles) and recommendations (for published articles) are freely available for consultation. Recommendations are signed by the recommenders. Reviews may also be signed if the reviewers agree to do so
  • PCI Math Comp Biol is not exclusive: an article may be recommended by different Peer Communities in X (a feature of particular interest for articles relating to multidisciplinary studies), and may even be published in a traditional journal (although this is not the goal of PCI Math Comp Biol).​

Managing board of PCI Math Comp Biol​

Caroline Colijn (Vancouver, Simon Fraser University, Canada & London, Imperial College, UK)
Christophe Dessimoz (Lausanne, University of Lausanne, Switzerland)
Barbara Holland (Hobart, University of Tasmania, Australia)
Hirohisa Kishino (Tokyo, University of Tokyo, Japan)
Anita Layton (University of Waterloo, Canada)
Wolfram Liebermeister (Jouy-en-Josas, INRAE, France)
Paul Medvedev (Penn State University, USA)
Christian Robert (Paris, Ceremade, Université Paris-Dauphine, France)
Celine Scornavacca (Montpellier, ISEM, France)
Donate Weghorn (Barcelona, CRG, Spain)
To contact the Managing Board please send a message to contact@mcb.peercommunityin.org

Editorial policy​


PCI Math Comp Biol will evaluate preprints, and to a lesser extent articles published in journals, dealing with all fields of Mathematical and Computational Sciences applied to all fields of biology, including and not limited to Neurobiology, Evolutionary Biology, Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, Ecology, Epidemiology, Immunology, Genetics and population Genetics, Genomics and Transcriptomics, Structural Biology, Physiology, Development, Biophysics, Medical Sciences and Agricultural Sciences.

The preprints submitted to PCI Math Comp Biol may have diverse formats: reviews, comments, opinion papers, research articles, data papers, technical notes, computer notes, movies, etc.    
Acknowledging that advances in quantitative biology frequently require joint efforts from researchers with varied skills, PCI Math Comp Biol offers a venue for scientific work at the interface of biology, mathematics and computational science. PCI Math Comp Biol welcomes the submission of articles exposing innovative models and/or methods with deep mathematical or computational content and contributing substantially to the advancement of the natural and biological sciences. Implementation of methods and their application to data are encouraged but not compulsory. Articles are expected to be sufficiently well written to be superficially understood by any reader working at the interface of biology and mathematics or computational science. In addition, the objective of the work, the basic principles of the model/method, the relation to previous work and the potential applications of the results should be accessible to a broad audience.
Not in the scope of PCI Math Comp Biol are in particular
  • articles treating mathematical/computational problems only remotely inspired from biology and
  • articles with elementary mathematical content or applying classic bio-informatic tools.

​PCI Math Comp Biol recommends only preprints of high scientific quality that are methodologically and ethically sound. To this end, PCI Math Comp Biol: 

  • Requires data, computer codes and mathematical and statistical analysis scripts to be made available to reviewers and recommenders at the time of submission and to readers after recommendation. 
  • Welcomes reproductions of studies
  • Welcomes preprint submissions based on preregistrations (whether or not reviewed).
  • Welcomes preprints reporting negative results, provided that the questions addressed and the methodology are sound. 
  • Does not accept submissions of preprints presenting financial conflicts of interest. Other conflicts of interest must be minimal and declared. 
  • Ensures that, as far as possible, the recommenders and referees have no conflict of interest with the content or authors of the study being evaluated. 

PCI Math Comp Biol does not guarantee the evaluation or recommendation of all submitted preprints. Only preprints considered interesting by at least one competent recommender (equivalent to an associate editor in a classical journal) will be peer reviewed. The interest of the preprint, as determined by the recommender, can relate to its context, the scientific question addressed, the methodology, or the results. PCI Math Comp Biol has a large number of recommenders, ensuring a considerable diversity of interests. The recommendations published by PCI Math Comp Biol are designed to draw the attention of the research community to the qualities of the article, including the subjective reasons for the recommender’s interest in it.​

Type of articles

The articles recommended may be of different types: reviews, comments, opinion papers, research articles, data papers, technical notes, computer notes, etc. Preregistrations should be submitted to PCI Registered Reports.​

Repeatability of science and open science​

PCI wants to promote scientific repeatability and reliability to improve the overall robustness and integrity of our scientific conclusions. To this aim, PCI has set up three mandatory rules and makes two suggestions to authors:

Mandatory rules:

​Articles recommended by PCI must provide the readers with: 

  • Raw data, made available directly in the text or through an open data repository, such as Zenodo, Dryad or some other institutional repository (see Directory of Open Access Repositories) with a DOI. Data must be reusable, and the metadata and accompanying text must, therefore, carefully describe the data. ​
  • Details on the quantitative analyses (e.g. data treatment and statistical scripts in R, bioinformatic pipeline scripts, etc.) and details concerning simulations (scripts, codes) in the text or through an open data repository, such as Zenodo, Dryad or some other institutional repository (see Directory of Open Access Repositories) with a DOI. The scripts or codes must be carefully described such that another researcher can run them. 
  • Details on experimental procedures must be given in the text.​

Suggestions to authors:

  • ​​​​PCI encourages authors to submit preprints based on preregistrations: Authors may post their research questions and analysis plan to an independent registry before observing the research outcomes, and, thus, before writing and submitting their article. This provides a way of clarifying their hypotheses, avoiding confusing “postdictions” and predictions, and carefully planning appropriate statistical treatment of the data (e.g. see 10.1073/pnas.1708274114).​​​
  • Preregistrations should be submitted to PCI Registered Reports
  • PCI welcomes submissions proposing replication studies. All submissions are assessed according to the same criteria, provided that the article is considered interesting by the recommender handling it and the research question is judged to be scientifically valid.​​​


Peer Community In is a member of and subscribes to the principles of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). In addition:

  • Financial conflicts of interest are forbidden, see the PCI code of conduct.
  • Authors should declare any potential non-financial conflict of interest.

Recommending Postprints

PCI also recommends “postprints”, which we define as research papers that have already been published in peer-reviewed journals. PCI also considers books to be postprints because, despite not being evaluated by reviewers or editors before being published, they are often treated as such by academics. 

As postprints (other than books, see above) have already undergone peer review before publication, an additional PCI peer review is not required for their recommendation. Each postprint recommendation is written by at least two PCI recommenders. Authors cannot submit their own articles or books to a thematic PCI for postprint recommendation. Instead, a postprint recommendation must be initiated by a recommender who has read the postprint and considers it worthy of recommendation. The recommender must then find at least one other co-recommender for completion of the recommendation process.

When a postprint recommendation is published by a thematic PCI, the word “postprint” is printed below the image illustrating the postprint, to differentiate it from preprint recommendations. 

The recommendation text is published with a DOI, but is not accompanied by a peer review or editorial decision.

Inclusiveness and equity

PCI is attentive to equity and inclusion at all steps of the process of scientific article evaluation. PCI focuses on bringing more people underrepresented in academia among authors submitting to PCI, and reviewers, recommenders and managing board members working for PCI. Underrepresentation is hereby linked to many factors including career stage, gender and geography.
Specific recommendations are made to reviewers, recommenders and managing board members to increase equity and inclusiveness in each of their tasks. 
Tools to increase equity and inclusiveness:

  • Possibility to submit articles anonymously
  • Transparency in the evaluation of articles
  • Managing Board members take into account underrepresentation in academia when appointing new recommenders
  • Template messages to recommenders and reviewers include recommendations about equity and inclusiveness 
  • Possibility to review anonymously

PCI is signatory of the Joint Statement of Principles of the Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion in Scholarly Communication (C4DISC)​​​​