Publishing grant proposals, presubmission

There are a lot of really interesting works being published over at Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO).  If you aren’t already following the updates you can do so via RSS, Twitter, or via email (scroll to the bottom for sign-up).

In this post I’m going to discuss why Chad Hammond’s contribution is so remarkable and why it could represent an exciting model for a more transparent and more immediate future of scholarly communications.





So, what’s special?

Well, to state the obvious first: it’s a grant proposal, not a research article. RIO Journal has published quite a lot of research proposals now, it’s becoming a real strength of the journal. But that’s not the really interesting thing about it. The really cool thing is that Chad published this grant proposal with RIO before it was submitted it to the funder (Canadian Institutes of Health Research) for evaluation.

You’ll see the publication date of Version 1 of the work is 24th March 2016. Pleasingly, after publication in RIO Chad’s proposal was evaluated by CIHR and awarded research funding. Chad received news of this in late April:

…and the story gets even better from here because thanks to RIO’s unique technology called ARPHA, Chad was able to re-import his published article back into editing mode, to update the proposal to acknowledge that it had been funded:

This proposal was submitted to and received funding from the annual Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) competition for postdoctoral fellowships.

The updated proposal was then checked by the editorial team and republished as an updated version of the original proposal: Version 2, making-use of CrossMark technology to formally link the two versions and to make sure readers are always made aware if a newer version of the work exists. Chad’s updated proposal now has a little ‘Funded’ button appended to it (see below), to indicate that this proposal has been successfully funded. We hope to see many more such successfully funded proposals published at RIO.

Title and metadata




With permission given, Chad was also able to supply some of the reviewer comments passed to him from CIHR reviewers as supplementary data to the updated Version 2 proposal. These will undoubtedly provide invaluable insight into reviewing processes for many.

Finally, for funders and publishing-tech geeks: you should really take note of the lovely machine-readable XML-formatted version of Chad’s proposal. Pensoft has machine-readable XML output as standard, not just PDF and HTML. Funding agencies around the world would do well to think closely about the value of having XML-formatted machine-readable grant proposal submissions. There’s serious value to this and I think it’s something we’ll see more of in the future. Pensoft is actively looking to work with funders to develop further these ideas and approaches for genuinelyadding-value to scholarly communications.
RIO is truly an innovative journal don’t you think?


Version 1:
Hammond C (2016) Widening the circle of care: An arts-based, participatory dialogue with stakeholders on cancer care for First Nations, Inuit,and Métis peoples in Ontario, Canada. Research Ideas and Outcomes 2: e8615. doi: 10.3897/rio.2.e8615

Version 2:
Hammond C (2016) Widening the circle of care: An arts-based, participatory dialogue with stakeholders on cancer care for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples in Ontario, Canada. Research Ideas and Outcomes 2: e9115. doi: 10.3897/rio.2.e9115


This blog post was originally published on Ross Mounce’s blog.

Opening-up the early stages of research – LSE blog about RIO

Research Ideas & Outcomes (RIO) is now featured on the LSE Blog and here is what we shared with them.

Few like to admit it, but the traditional process of research is immensely wasteful. Inefficiency occurs in every part of the research cycle, perhaps none more so than the research proposal stage. For example, nearly 90% of EU Horizon 2020 grant proposals were rejected. Many of these proposals are extremely good works, written by teams, over many months of work. Significant effort goes into crafting research proposals, yet as research outputs in themselves, they are hugely under-utilised. After the proposals are scored and either funded or not funded, typically via closed processes, what happens to these documents? Most stay hidden, never to be seen again, regardless of whether they were funded or not

What if we treated proposals like other outputs of the research cycle: like data, like software, like research articles? What if we published proposals in a journal, regardless of whether they were funded or not, to enable the citation of ideas not yet tested, to foster collaboration, to demonstrate the quality of proposed research, and to help others see what good proposals look like…

Launched yesterday, a new journal called Research Ideas & Outcomes (RIO) has been created specifically to enable and encourage the entire research cycle to be published, from start to finish, specifically including research proposals and ideas; the earliest stages that rarely get published (see the video below for more explanation).

Efficient publishing technology does away with the need for typesetting

The innovations provided by RIO journal do not stop there though. Another of the major features of the journal is its authoring, reviewing and publishing system called ARPHA for short. This system is a revolution in itself: if used fully, it eliminates the need for an outsourced typesetting process and all the associated errors that entails which frustrate authors and delay publication. It also speeds up the publishing process; no delay waiting for typesetters, and it reduces the cost of production as good typesetters charge a non-negligible sum per page.

I remember only too well getting manuscript proofs back from a different publisher and seeing that the typesetting process had converted the word ‘Phylomatic’ into ‘phlegmatic’ (see tweet above) – the latter word was not in any submitted author version! This error had been introduced by mistake during the shadowy typesetting process, something publishing companies typically keep very quiet about as it’s a remarkable inefficiency in the publishing process. Typesetting is arguably an anachronism and doesn’t need to exist if authors use tools that are specifically designed to produce structured academic outputs. Don’t take my word for this: memorably, Dr Kaveh Bazargan, who runs a high-quality, successful typesetting business (River Valley) stood-up at a conference in 2012 and said of typesetting: “It’s madness. I’m here to say I really shouldn’t be in business”.

Pensoft have cracked the authoring tools problem with a solid solution that has been successfully developed & tested with the Biodiversity Data Journal and shown to be a robust system. By combining the ARPHA publishing system, with a broad subject-scope, a philosophy of publishing the entire research cycle, and low cost open access publishing, I genuinely think RIO journal offers a distinctive and attractive option for authors, significantly better in production workflow than most other journals. Alongside Dr Daniel Mietchen, I am proud to be a founding editor of this visionary new journal.

Originally posted in the LSE Blog at: