The rise of preprint studies about COVID-19 is changing science

“The COVID-19 pandemic has forever altered our lives. But even in the face of unprecedented disruption and tragedy, the scientific community is experiencing a foundational, and hopeful, shift. As researchers race to better understand the virus, they’re disseminating their findings more rapidly, at higher quantities, and more publicly than ever before. By prompting a mad dash for knowledge, COVID-19 has placed scientific inquiry firmly in the public domain, and expedited the movement toward open science.


In large part, this shift has been due to the rise of preprints—scientific manuscripts that are made available in advance of their formal peer review and publication. As the coronavirus death toll surpasses 625,000 worldwide, preprints are accelerating scientific discovery at a time when it’s needed most. Unlike the traditional publishing process, which can easily take months or years to complete, researchers can submit a preprint and have it posted within days. And while scientific journals often sit behind paywalls, preprints are being made freely accessible to the public and researchers alike….”

Giving credit where credit is due: how to cite preprints – ASAPbio

“We sometimes get queries about whether preprints can be cited in journal publications, and while we make a brief mention to this in our FAQ, we thought it would be useful to offer a deeper dive. We believe it is important for articles to give credit to any sources the authors used as part of the conceptualization, development or interpretation of their work, independent of the scope or peer-reviewed status of the research object. Preprints are legitimate research outputs and should be afforded fair credit and attribution in the context of citation practice….”

Preprint authors optimistic about benefits: preliminary results from the #bioPreprint2020 survey – ASAPbio

“After our #bioPreprints2020 meeting, a working group of attendees set out to understand how to best increase awareness about preprints among varied groups of stakeholders (such as librarians, journalists, publishers, funders, research administrators, students, clinicians, and more). To accomplish this goal, we first designed a survey to explore the perspectives of each group and seek feedback on the perceived benefits and concerns around preprints. 

We put out an open call for participation in a web-based survey during the period June 16-July 16, 2020 — thanks to SciELO, SSRN, Wiley, Springer Nature, Cambridge University Press and others for spreading the word. A total of 546 people took the survey, but the results presented here have been filtered based on one of our predefined descriptions of their role (such as researcher in academia, funder, journalist, etc).

We’re still processing the results, but wanted to share some preliminary observations. …”

Will COVID-19 mark the end of scientific publishing as we know it?

“Under the pressure of a global health crisis, the argument for open access has sunk in. Following calls from the World Health Organization and government leaders, over 150 publishers, companies, and research institutions have agreed to temporarily make all content related to COVID-19 free to read, ensuring efforts to understand the virus can go forth undeterred….

Is this the catalyst that breaks up the bonds of an old publishing model once and for all? …”

Meta-Research: International authorship and collaboration across bioRxiv preprints | eLife

Abstract:  Preprints are becoming well established in the life sciences, but relatively little is known about the demographics of the researchers who post preprints and those who do not, or about the collaborations between preprint authors. Here, based on an analysis of 67,885 preprints posted on bioRxiv, we find that some countries, notably the United States and the United Kingdom, are overrepresented on bioRxiv relative to their overall scientific output, while other countries (including China, Russia, and Turkey) show lower levels of bioRxiv adoption. We also describe a set of ‘contributor countries’ (including Uganda, Croatia and Thailand): researchers from these countries appear almost exclusively as non-senior authors on international collaborations. Lastly, we find multiple journals that publish a disproportionate number of preprints from some countries, a dynamic that almost always benefits manuscripts from the US.


Early in the Epidemic: Impact of Preprints on Global Discourse of 2019-nCoV Transmissibility by Maimuna S. Majumder, Kenneth D. Mandl :: SSRN

Abstract:  As of February 11, 2020, more than 43,000 cases of a novel coronavirus (2019–nCoV) have been reported worldwide. Using publicly available data regarding the transmissibility potential (i.e. basic reproduction number) of 2019–nCoV, we demonstrate that relevant preprint studies generated considerable search and news media interest prior to the publication of peer-reviewed studies in the same topic area. We then show that preprint estimate ranges for the basic reproduction number associated with 2019–nCoV overlap with those presented by peer-reviewed studies that were published at a later date. Taken together, we argue that preprints are capable of driving global discourse during public health crises; however, we recommend that a consensus-based approach – as we have employed here – be considered as a means of assessing the robustness of preprint findings prior to peer review.


Europe PMC: unlocking the potential of COVID-19 preprints | European Bioinformatics Institute


Europe PMC is now indexing full-text preprints related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the SARS-CoV-2 virus, as well as the underlying data
The project will make COVID-19 scientific literature available as fast as possible in a single repository, in a format that allows text mining
Researchers and healthcare professionals will be able to access and reuse preprints more easily, accelerating research into better treatments or a vaccine….”

Accelerating open science in physics | Research Information

“Some argue there is enough money in the system to afford a transition to open access. Whether this is the case or not, there is no current solution or global plan in place to adjust the allocation and flow of funding so it resides at the levels exactly commensurate to where research is produced. These are not intractable challenges. But they require global consensus on the goal of open science, coordinated action to build the infrastructure, and incentives to create lasting change. This will take time….

Although Covid-19 might have reinforced the value of open science, its benefits are well understood by many in the physics community, and we are a long-standing proponent. But there is still much work for all involved if we are to transition to a fully and sustainably open landscape in physics and beyond.

To that end, we will maintain an open dialogue with the physical scientists and scientific organisations we serve and continue to seek more insight into what’s specifically important to them. Over the coming year we will engage in a series of projects to speak to the global physical science community so we can contribute to more open science – more ‘open physics’ – and we look forward to reporting back.”