Oct 1, 2017

Are preprints the future of biology? A survival guide for scientists

Posted by in categories: biological, futurism

Proponents of biology preprints argue they will accelerate the pace of science—and improve its quality—by publicizing findings long before they reach journals, helping researchers get rapid feedback on their work, and giving a leg up to young researchers who don’t yet have many publications. Some see little difference between posting a preprint and presenting unpublished findings at a meeting, except that the preprint audience can be far larger.

Many biologists remain wary, however. Some worry that competitors will steal their data or ideas, or rush to publish similar work. Others predict that preprint servers will become a time sink, as scientists spend hours trying to sift through an immense mishmash of papers of various quality. And some researchers fear that easy, rapid publication could foster preprint wars—in which the findings in one preprint are quickly attacked in another, sometimes within hours. Such online squabbles could leave the public bewildered and erode trust in scientists.

Biologists are posting unreviewed manuscripts in record numbers. But many are still not sure it’s a good idea.

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