“The systems for communicating scholarship were stressed substantially during the height of the pandemic. The pandemic provided, in real time, a master class in the opportunities and challenges of speedy open early-stage research sharing. The benefits of preprints, in enabling large-scale early-stage research communication, became apparent, as medRxiv and bioRxiv in particular saw a surge of submissions. Other scientific communication has been even less formal than preprints. Yet, in an environment of unrelenting public interest, and the unforeseen politicization of clinical care findings, preprint services have had to adapt rapidly, developing review systems to prevent misuse and providing disclaimers, among other changes. Some observers felt these shortcomings risked launching an “infodemic of bad information.” Some medical journals also launched a fast-track peer review process that demonstrated the efficiencies that could be driven, at least under emergency conditions, into their editorial processes. Many publishers made Coronavirus and related research papers freely available, and some observers felt these developments were accelerating the shift towards open access. At the same time, several papers evincing research misconduct were published in top-tier journals and subsequently retracted. The combined effect of accelerating research communication and an endless thirst for public information about the disease led to single studies, in some cases themselves inadequate in terms of research design, driving a public narrative about potential treatments that were not thoroughly vetted.…”
Abstract: Millions of scholars use academic social media to share their work and construct themselves as legitimate and productive workers. An analysis of Academia.edu updates ideas about science as a ‘marketplace of ideas’. Scholarly communication via social media is best conceptualized as a ‘financial market of ideas’ through which academic value is assigned to publications and researchers. Academic social media allow for the inclusion of scholarly objects such as preprint articles, which exceed traditional accounting systems in scholarly communication. Their functioning is based on a valorization of derived qualities, as their algorithms analyze social interactions on the platform rather than the content of scholarship. They are also oriented toward the future in their use of data analytics to predict research outcomes.
“While conventional policies and systems for data sharing and scholarly publishing are being challenged and new Open Science policies are being developed, traceability should be a key function for guaranteeing socially responsible and robust policies. Full access to the available data and the ability to trace it back to its origins assure data quality and processing legitimacy. Moreover, traceability would be important for other agencies and organisations – funding agencies, database managers, institutional review boards and so on – for undertaking systematic reviews, data curation or process oversights. Thus, the term “openness” means much more than just open access to published data but must include all aspects of data generation, analysis and dissemination along with other organisations and agencies than just research groups and publishers. The COVID?19 crisis has highlighted the challenges and shortfalls of the current notions of openness and it should serve as an impetus to further advance towards real Open Science.”
“Research and its associated publications have had a considerable impact on the care and monitoring of the patients since evidence-based medicine became standard for modern medicine during the 1990s (1). Peer-reviewing is a fundamental component of scientific publication. The peer-review process first includes an evaluation of the quality and interest in the paper for the reader of the journal by the editor who, if he or she considers the article to be of interest, sends it to the external reviewers (2). If the paper is found to be interesting and of sufficient quality, the reviewers ask questions and make comments to which the researcher must respond in a rebuttal letter. If the answers are satisfactory, the article can be published. This is a time-consuming process, typically lasting months, and authors complain about the review time, which has been relatively stable since the 1980s (3)….”
“Our survey revealed a significant shift towards publishing through open access and sharing links to supporting datasets as the type of change that researchers are considering – from 29% in 2019 to 51% in 2020….
On the topic of open data, it was unsurprising that half of all respondents (and as many as 61% in North America) were concerned over datasets that contain sensitive or personal information that is inappropriate or unethical to share openly.
For some, there also appears to be a lack of clarity on how to share data, with 7% of respondents admitting that they did not know how to do this. At the regional level, this increases to 16% of respondents in the Middle East and North Africa who were unfamiliar with data sharing….”
“At the STM Association Annual Meeting in “virtual Frankfurt” last week, much of the focus was on how scholarly publishers are responding to the COVID crisis. Publishing executives reported how they have accelerated their editorial and peer review processes for COVID submissions, rightly taking pride in the contributions they have made to fighting the pandemic. They also emphasized again and again that they want to be more trusted. This is a formidable challenge in light of some recent failures. To achieve their objectives, publishers need to become more comfortable talking about their mistakes to prove convincingly that they are learning from them….
At the same time, I would encourage publishers to balance their celebrations with self-reflection. Scholarly publishers wish to see themselves as stewards of the scholarly record and of the transition to open science. To do so in a way that is compelling to all stakeholders, they must continuously increase the quality and rigor of their work, probe their processes for weaknesses, and make their work ever more resilient against potential points of failure. …
Today, the scholarly publishing sector looks to reestablish itself as a steward of the scholarly record and a trusted party to lead the transition to open science, and we need it in this type of role more than ever. Being entrusted with this role requires that publishers identify problems honestly and with humility, since trust is earned, or squandered, at a sector-wide level. The sector does not need triumphalism from leaders that enables their organizations to downplay festering problems. And, it does not need its boosters to selectively amplify concerns with preprints — when publishers should focus on their own shortcomings. The sector needs not only to ask for trust but also to make sure that it is continuously earning it every day.”
Rationale, Aims, and Objectives
To both examine the impact of preprint publishing on health sciences research and survey popular preprint servers amidst the current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID?19) pandemic.
The authors queried three biomedical databases (MEDLINE, Web of Science, and Google Scholar) and two preprint servers (MedRxiv and SSRN) to identify literature pertaining to preprints. Additionally, they evaluated 12 preprint servers featuring COVID?19 research through sample submission of six manuscripts.
The realm of health sciences research has seen a dramatic increase in the presence and importance of preprint publications. By posting manuscripts on preprint servers, researchers are able to immediately communicate their findings, thereby facilitating prompt feedback and promoting collaboration. In doing so, they may also reduce publication bias and improve methodological transparency. However, by circumventing the peer?review process, academia incurs the risk of disseminating erroneous or misinterpreted data and suffering the downstream consequences. Never have these issues been better highlighted than during the ongoing COVID?19 pandemic. Researchers have flooded the literature with preprint publications as stopgaps to meet the desperate need for knowledge about the disease. These unreviewed articles initially outnumbered those published in conventional journals and helped steer the mainstream scientific community at the start of the pandemic. In surveying select preprint servers, the authors discovered varying usability, review practices, and acceptance polices.
While vital in the rapid dispensation of science, preprint manuscripts promulgate their conclusions without peer review and possess the capacity to misinform. Undoubtedly part of the future of science, conscientious consumers will need to appreciate not only their utility, but also their limitations.
“Uploading scientific studies to preprint servers before sending them off to journals for peer-review has become a standard practice in the physical and mathematical sciences. However, biologists have been slow in embracing the trend. In this article, Divya examines the advantages offered by as well as the risk associated with the widespread use of preprints during the time of the pandemic. …”
“This week marks Open Access Week 2020, which is running with the theme “Open with Purpose: Taking Action to Build Structural Equity and Inclusion.” The theme provides a reminder that openness in science communication is a means to other uses rather than just an ultimate goal in itself. The same principle applies to preprints; we want to build on the benefits of faster communication that preprints bring to ultimately allow science to progress faster and researchers to receive credit for their work earlier.
Preprints are usually considered a mode of open science communication, however, whether a preprint is fully open access (rather than just free to read) will depend on whether the license under which it is posted allows redistribution and reuse.
Licensing in the context of scholarly publications can be a confusing subject (McKenzie, Nature News), there are a number of licenses available and there can be also different licenses applied to different versions of the paper available, for instance, as a preprint, as an accepted author version, as the final version of record at the journal. What does this mean regarding licenses for the paper? It can sometimes be tricky to have clarity around licensing for journal publications, and similar questions arise for preprints: in the #biopreprints2020 survey we ran earlier this year, 56% of the respondents scored ‘Uncertainty about copyright and licensing of preprints’ as concerning or very concerning. Here we highlight some of the common concerns we hear, for a more in-depth guide co-authored with representatives from Creative Commons and other organizations, please see our Preprint Licensing FAQ. …”
Abstract: The evolving research landscape in the time of the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic calls for greater understanding of the perceptions of scholars regarding the current state and future of publishing. An anonymised and validated e-survey featuring 30 questions was circulated among rheumatologists and other specialists over social media to understand preferences while choosing target journals, publishing standards, commercial editing services, preprint archiving, social media and alternative publication activities. Of 108 respondents, a significant proportion were clinicians (68%), researchers (60%) and educators (47%), with median 23 publications and 15 peer-review accomplishments. The respondents were mainly rheumatologists from India, Ukraine and Turkey. While choosing target journals, relevance to their field (69%), PubMed Central archiving (61%) and free publishing (59%) were the major factors. Thirty-nine surveyees (36%) claimed that they often targeted local journals for publishing their research. However, only 18 (17%) perceived their local society journals as trustworthy. Occasional publication in the so-called predatory journals (5, 5%) was reported and obtaining support from commercial editing agencies to improve English and data presentation was not uncommon (23, 21%). The opinion on preprint archiving was disputed; only one-third believed preprints were useful. High-quality peer review (56%), full and immediate open access (46%) and post-publication social media promotion (32%) were identified as key anticipated features of scholarly publishing in the foreseeable future. These perceptions of surveyed scholars call for greater access to free publishing, attention to proper usage of English and editing skills, and a larger role for engagement over social media.