HSL Explains the Popularity of Preprints During COVID-19 Pandemic
Publishing in medicine and life sciences has long been beholden to the lengthy peer review process.
Peer review increases the quality of research published in medical journals, but according to a 2019 study in Scientometrics, the median delay time from submission to publication of articles in medical journals is an astonishing 224 days. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when the world is seeking answers to questions regarding prevention, diagnosis and treatment of infection and needs fast access to newly generated information, the preprint fills an information need.
Preprints are completed scientific manuscripts that have not yet been through the peer review process. Readers are warned to use critical appraisal skills to evaluate the validity of research such as how the research is conducted, what biases are introduced, which clinical endpoints are measured and the clinical significance of the results. It should also be noted that the media is reading these preprints and may be making pronouncements based on small, biased research. Regardless of this balance between speed and validity, it appears the preprint will likely be here to stay, according to the Health Sciences Library (HSL).
The HSL recommends these sources of preprints:
- GISAID Initiative
- Medical Research Network (MedRN)
- medRxiv (one of the largest medical preprint servers)
- OSF Preprints
- Outbreak Science Rapid PREreview (includes the ability for researcher to do rapid reviews of existing preprints)
The HSL staff continues to monitor the COVID-19 information landscape and welcomes any search requests.