What is a perpetual review?
Perpetual reviews, like standard reviews, seek to provide an overview of an area of the field; however, they can be updated as needed, thus serving as living documents that remain current. Perpetual reviews change both in response to community input (e.g. via GitHub), and in response to new developments in the field. An example of this process can be found in the Mobley et al. review, which was originally an Annual Reviews in Biophysics article, but is now being updated regularly on GitHub.
Additional review criteria for perpetual reviews
- Do the authors properly include information from the recent literature, including last 6 to 12 months?
- Is this a good summary of its area which will be valuable to the field?
- Do the authors include data and viewpoints that are contradictory to their own, if these exist?
- (If a revision) Have the authors removed outdated material and qualified information that has been disproven or contradicted? Does the revision add the appropriate and relevant new material or is it becoming outdated?
Revision schedule for perpetual reviews
Authors should update reviews at least once every 36 months, and will be encouraged to ensure continuity of authorship (e.g. if one author retires or loses interest) so the review can be maintained, or else the review will be “made emeritus” and indicated as out-of-date on the site. (Out-of-date reviews will still be retained on the journal website and remain valid publications.) We recommend updating at least every 24 months. However, authors decide when it is time to re-version based on feedback they receive, with help from the Lead Editor for Perpetual Reviews as needed.
We recommend that authors take a two-pronged approach to updates:
- Regularly make updates on their GitHub repository as they become aware of new material, developments, etc., issuing minor “releases” of their work when these changes warrant
- Submit a new version of their work for peer review and additional publication when either (a) a larger change to the work is needed, or (b) enough incremental updates have accrued that the work has become significantly different.
Necessarily, judging whether an update is substantial enough to merit a new peer-reviewed version will involve some degree of subjectivity; if it is unclear, the authors should consult with the Lead Editor for Perpetual Reviews.