“In February 2021, Nature Reviews Immunology launches the first of its monthly ‘Preprint Watch’ columns. Here, we explain the rationale for our coverage of preprints and the precautions we have taken to guard against their improper use….
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic, which necessitated the rapid dissemination of results, has fuelled some of this increase, with approximately one-quarter (463) of the 2020 ‘immunology’ preprints on bioRxiv containing the search term ‘COVID-19’ or ‘SARS-CoV-2’. It also seems clear from these numbers that even in non-pandemic times, preprints are here to stay. At Nature Reviews Immunology, we anticipate that the accelerated acceptance of the value of preprints that has occurred in 2020 will translate to long-term changes in their use, and we are well placed to respond to these changes….
[I]n April 2020 Nature Reviews Immunology began a collaboration with the Precision Immunology Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine, New York, USA (the Sinai Immunology Review Project; SIRP)2, to publish short ‘In Brief’ summaries (for example, ref.3) on a weekly basis of the most relevant, new COVID-19-related preprints (for example, ref.4), many of which have since been published in high-profile journals (for example, ref.5). We were mindful of the potential dangers of highlighting and publicizing non-peer-reviewed results, but we were reassured by the system that SIRP had established to scan, filter and review preprints, involving both early career researchers (ECRs) and faculty members. This curation of the preprint literature at a time when journals and editors were overwhelmed with submissions was an essential service to the community, and the training in peer review for ECRs who were shut out of the lab should pay future dividends. In June 2020, a second group from the University of Oxford, UK (the OxImmuno Literature Initiative), operating under a similar system, also began to contribute regular preprint summaries (for example, refs6,7)….
We share your concerns about media reporting of incomplete or misleading data that might damage public trust in science. For this reason, we are maintaining a cautious approach to preprints, covering only a few select papers picked by experts after careful review. …”