A Lesson of the Pandemic: All Prints Should Be Preprints

“As of this week, roughly 10,000 preprints about the novel coronavirus were available on the preprint servers bioRxiv and medRxiv alone, a remarkable feat given that this virus has existed for less than a year. Collectively, these preprints have put vital research information into circulation much faster than would have been possible under the traditional academic publishing model, in which emerging knowledge is sequestered until it clears peer review. Although peer review has long been held up as the gold standard of academic publication, the flowering of preprints during the pandemic gives the lie to the fiction that pre-publication peer review is essential to ensuring scholarly rigor. In a fast-moving era of digital information, preprints should become the new normal….

Moreover, the pandemic has inspired the emergence of several third-party services that review or curate published preprints. PreLights, a preprint review site supported by the not-for-profit publisher The Company of Biologists, maintains a running timeline of what they deem to be “landmark” preprints about the biology and transmission of the novel coronavirus. Each entry gives a brief description of why the preprint is important, along with a direct link to the paper. As of this writing, they have highlighted approximately 125 preprints, providing a useful filtration system for the thousands of preprints that have been published about the coronavirus….”

COVID-19 has profoundly changed the way we conduct and share research. Let’s not return to business as usual when the pandemic is over! | Impact of Social Sciences

“But will this new, radically open research communications paradigm result in permanent change?

Many subscription publishers have temporarily made their COVID-19 content openly available, or are providing special conditions for libraries to allow researchers to access relevant collections, demonstrating that there is a willingness to adapt when there is a crisis of this proportion. However, some have already started to move their content back behind paywalls, or have indicated that they will do so in the near future.

COVID-19 has provided us with a relevant and practical example of the benefits of open science. The current moment should act as a catalyst for transforming the current flawed system of research communications into a global knowledge commons; a commons that is more efficient, inclusive, and governed by the scholarly community; a commons with no barriers to access or to publish research….

And COAR is developing an overlay model that will integrate peer review and other types of evaluation services into the distributed international repository and preprint network, which will soon be piloted by several organizations….

We must start now to shift our resources towards open, community-based infrastructures and services whose values align with those of research and society. Let us not go back to business as usual once the pandemic is over. The problems facing the world today are just too important.”

Harvard Library Bulletin now open access through DASH

“Harvard Library Bulletin is Harvard Library’s flagship scholarly journal. In print since 1947, and published by Houghton Library since 2001, HLB is a cross-disciplinary publication whose articles focus on Harvard Library collections. On August 1, the entire print run of HLB —nearly 1,800 assets  in all— was made available for free online reading and download on DASH, Harvard University’s open-access repository. As of August 24, there have been over 35,000 page views and 6,600 article downloads. The deposits represent one phase of a multi-year project to convert HLB from a paid subscription print model to a fully open access and online publication that will launch in fall 2020 (more news soon to come)….”

Coronavirus: time to re-imagine academic publishing

“High-profile retractions have highlighted how the conventional model of academic publishing has struggled to keep pace with the race to understand the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. The system is ripe for innovation. To that end, an open-access overlay journal known as Rapid Reviews: COVID-19 (RR:C19; see go.nature.com/3fufauw) uses the speed of technology to democratize the review process and strengthen the quality of research.

RR:C19 was launched this year by the MIT Press and the University of California, Berkeley, with support from the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation. Scientists, publishers and philanthropic foundations work together to swiftly deploy new models for digitally enabled publishing. The journal promotes rapid and transparent peer review of promising or controversial preprints, as well as dynamic curation of content (see B. M. Stern and E. K. O’Shea PLoS Biol. 17, e3000116; 2019).

Philanthropic foundations have been leaders in funding risky scientific ventures. In our experience, extending that support to advance the publishing process will boost the quality of research and accelerate its dissemination.”

Overlay model for peer review on repositories – open for public comment – COAR

“The resource-oriented nature of the Web is well suited to an environment which places value in the fact that control of resources is distributed across a large number of repositories. In such an environment, it makes sense to take a pass-by-reference approach to interaction between different networked services, rather than relying on machine or human mediated processes to pass copies of resources around the network.


Resources in repositories have stable URIs that can be used for referencing. This means that a request for review can be sent as a standards-based notification that carries a resource’s stable URI to the inbox of a review service. This also means that the review service can obtain the resource that is to be reviewed by visiting that stable URI. From there, the actual resource can be retrieved by following some simple standards-based navigational conventions (e.g., retrieve the full text of a preprint, automatically, from having accessed a landing page describing it). Generally, this means that it becomes possible to invoke and use remote services on the network, by passing instructions to them together with, crucially, URIs identifying particular resources.

This document presents some simple models and vocabularies for using standard notification protocols to achieve common interactions between repositories and overlay peer review services, based on the use cases provided….”

Ars Inveniendi Analytica | Published by Ars Inveniendi Analytica

“we believe that the mathematical community could and should engage into the creation of a line of arXiv overlay journals, covering the various areas of Mathematics, and publishing papers of the highest quality. We are thus launching, with the support of a group of colleagues who have accepted our invitation to serve as editors, an arXiv overlay journal in Mathematical Analysis, called Ars Inveniendi Analytica. This journal will benefit from the financial support of the University of Texas Libraries, and has been assisted in these initial stages by the Harvard Library, a member of the Confederation of Open Access Repositories….”

Communiqué: Meeting participants agree to work together on a technical architecture for distributed peer review on repository resources – COAR

“On January 23-24, 2020, COAR (Confederation of Open Access Repositories) convened a meeting to investigate the potential for a common, distributed architecture that would connect peer review with resources in repositories. The aim of the meeting, hosted by Inria in Paris, France, was to share the current workflows of various projects and systems that are managing or developing overlay peer review on a variety of different repository types (institutional, preprint, data, etc.), and assess whether there is sufficient interest in defining a set of common protocols and vocabularies that would allow interoperability across different systems.

Meeting participants reviewed and discussed a number of different use cases. While each case has its own unique attributes, it was clear that there are significant similarities in terms of functionalities and objectives. A draft architecture for distributed peer review on repositories, applying existing web technologies and standards such as Linked Data Notifications and Activity Streams 2.0, was presented by Herbert Van de Sompel of DANS and prototyped by Martin Klein of Los Alamos National Laboratory. By the end of the meeting, there was a consensus by participants that it would be worthwhile to further specify the proposed architecture, through detailing the use cases, developing a common model, and further profiling the technologies. This work will be undertaken in the coming weeks and months.

The outcome of this work could be extremely powerful. It would allow us to move away from the current ‘system to system’ approach to a highly distributed, technically efficient overlay peer review architecture, which would enable any compatible repository and peer review service to participate in the network. This profiling builds on previous work of COAR such as Next Generation Repositories and Pubfair. COAR will provide regular updates about the progress of this work and all results will be widely shared once stable outcomes are available….”

Modelling Overlay Peer Review Processes with Linked Data Notifications

In November 2017, the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR) published a report outlining the technologies and behaviours of the Next Generation Repository (NGR). In the report, the NGR Working Group argues that repositories must take their place in a resource-centric network, where the individual resources (metadata and actual content) within the repositories are interconnected on the Web both with each other and, more importantly with resource-oriented networked services. These links between resources and overlay services can bring many new opportunities for broadening the scope of the services offered by repositories and 3rd party initiatives. The emphasis on moving to a fully resource-centric paradigm presented in the vision for the Next Generation Repository offers an opportunity to exploit what programmers call “pass by reference” – a notion which underlies the fundamental function of the Web.

One specific use case related to this vision is the linking of repository resources with services providing commentary, annotation and peer reviews; a use case that is currently being considered by several different initiatives in the scholarly communications landscape. The wide distribution of resources (typified by articles) in repositories, coupled with the growing interest in overlay journals, introduces the possibility of adopting an asynchronous notification paradigm to achieve interoperability between repositories and peer review systems….”

New MIT Press Journal to Debunk Bad COVID-19 Research

“Preprint servers play an increasingly important role in the scholarly publishing landscape. They are a popular platform for researchers to get early feedback on their research. They are also a space where researchers can publish research products and data sets not typically published in traditional journals. The process is fast — publication of open-access research that anyone can read is immediate.

The downside of this open publication system is that sometimes controversial or poor-quality research can garner a lot of attention on social media or in news articles, said Stefano Bertozzi, professor of health policy and management at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health. In the clamor for information about COVID-19, it is easy for misinformation to spread online, he said.

To combat this, MIT Press and the Berkeley School of Public Health are launching a new COVID-19 journal, one that will peer review preprint articles getting a lot of attention — elevating the good research and debunking the bad.

The Rapid Reviews: COVID-19 journal will be led by Bertozzi, who will serve as the first editor in chief. Unlike a traditional journal, authors will not submit their work for review. Instead, the Rapid Reviews team will select and review already-published preprint articles — a publishing model known as an overlay journal.   …”

The MIT Press and UC Berkeley launch Rapid Reviews: COVID-19 · Rapid Reviews COVID-19

“The MIT Press announced today the launch of Rapid Reviews: COVID-19 (RR:C19), an open access, rapid-review overlay journal that will accelerate peer review of COVID-19-related research and deliver real-time, verified scientific information that policymakers and health leaders can use….

Using artificial intelligence tools, a global team will identify promising scholarship in preprint repositories, commission expert peer reviews, and publish the results on an open access platform in a completely transparent process. The journal will strive for disciplinary and geographic breadth, sourcing manuscripts from all regions and across a wide variety of fields, including medicine; public health; the physical, biological, and chemical sciences; the social sciences; and the humanities. RR:C19 will also provide a new publishing option for revised papers that are positively reviewed….”